Nielsen asks Congress for new authorities to deport and detain migrants

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the White House

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the White House

"In the past, the majority of migration flows were single adults who could move through our immigration system quickly and be returned to their home countries if they had no legal right to stay", Nielsen said.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen gave an alarming statement on Friday about the escalating crisis at the U.S. -Mexico border that has put the immigration system in "freefall".

"Our men and women on the frontlines are simply not resourced to handle these levels, and I report to you today that we are struggling to transport and process - let alone adequately care for - this many individuals coming into our custody, especially those in hard-to-reach areas", Nielsen continued.

"DHS facilities are overflowing, agents and officers are stretched too thin and the magnitude of arriving and detained aliens has increased the risk of life-threatening incidents", she said.

Currently, if an unaccompanied minor from Mexico doesn't meet asylum criteria, DHS can send them home, but that's not true of a child from other Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Nielsen argued that this "serves as a unsafe "pull" factor".

Nielsen said that Customs and Border Protection is now holding "1,200 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in custody, hundreds of which have been with CBP for days, an unacceptable length of stay in facilities not created to hold children for extended periods". Their policies now leave children vulnerable to abuse in order to foster illegal immigration. "Any system that encourages a parent to send their child alone on this awful journey-where they are exploited, pawned, and recycled-is completely broken".

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And then Dobbs said he's calling on Trump to "fire these incompetents in the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security and Customs Border Protection".

She called this "nearly unprecedented in the modern era".

"We are grappling with a humanitarian and security catastrophe that is worsening by the day, and the Department has run out of capacity, despite extraordinary intra-Departmental and interagency efforts", Nielsen's letter to Congress read.

She wrote that the department needs these changes because it is "increasingly unable" to uphold its responsibility to control the situation at the southern border. "Despite these impacts, we can not shirk our responsibility to the American people to do everything possible to secure our country while also upholding our humanitarian values".

The letter comes a day after the secretary signed a regional agreement with the so-called Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to try to address illegal immigration, combat criminal organizations and ultimately help with United States border security.

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