Defending Separations, DHS Sec. Says Parents Aren’t Exempt From Prosecution

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP

Defending the Trump administration migrant family separation policy Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asserted that Congress ought to change the law to allow for families to be detained together — even though the President could immediately end the new policy.

Nielsen acknowledged, though, that the administration’s border policy had changed.

“What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law,” she said.

That was an apparent reference to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” prosecution announcement in April. As a result, because children cannot be held in criminal detention, there has been a subsequent spike in family separations.

Rather than admitting that Sessions or Trump could reverse the policy, though, Nielsen echoed the Trump administration line, that Congress ought to be responsible for changing the law.

“Until these loopholes are closed by Congress, it is not possible as a matter of law to detain and remove whole family units who arrive illegally in the United States,” she said.

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