Donald Trump's family separations bedevil GOP as public outrage grows

Congressional Republicans beat a full-scale retreat Monday from the administration's zero-tolerance border policy, joining Democrats to demand that President Trump stop jailing parents and find ways to keep families together while trying to stop a new surge of illegal immigration.

Nielsen spoke Monday at the National Sheriff's Association conference in New Orleans.

Members of Congress from both parties have called for the Trump administration to end the separation of families.

Under current law, it is not legal to detain whole families who cross the border illegally.

"What the administration has made a decision to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that, if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you", she said. Trump has repeatedly and falsely claimed that family separation is a Democratic policy required by law, rather than the byproduct of his own administration's strict immigration enforcement policies.

And on Monday, Nielsen herself underscored the stricter policy. We give them meals. The senators asked for details on when children are separated from their parents, what the objective of doing so is, and how many children have been separated during the asylum claim process.

Whether she really did consider resigning or not, more than one paper reported last month that Trump lambasted her during a cabinet meeting at greeeeeat length over the fact that illegal border-crossings hadn't fallen. She also tweeted several more times, calling on Congress to change the nation's immigration laws.

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Even so, the questions kept coming, and Nielsen was asked at one point, "how is this not specifically child abuse for these innocent children who are, indeed, being separated from their parents?" If they have children accompanying them, the young people are placed in the custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, because children can not be held in adult facilities.

Secretary Nielsen tried to suggest the problem was with the Dept. of Health and Human Services, and not DHS.

Nielsen said that for those seeking asylum at ports of entry, the Trump administration has "continued the policy from previous administrations".

Nielsen insisted that it's not that she doesn't know where they are, it's that it's not her department. Many are fleeing violence in Central America and are hoping to apply for asylum in the United States.

People participate in a protest against recent US immigration policy of separating children from their families when they enter the United States as undocumented immigrants, in front of a Homeland Security facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey on June 17, 2018.

Nielsen said "those who have complained" about the policies now have an "opportunity" to work with the administration on the issue.

"I want that burden to be so uncomfortable for so many of us that it forces us to act, it places the public pressure on those in positions of public trust and power to do the right thing for our country", O'Rourke, who is seeking to unseat Republican Senator Ted Cruz, said to applause.

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