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Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen doubled down Monday on her defense of the Trump administration's extremely controversial policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border, and put the onus on Congress to take action.

“Congress and the courts created this problem and Congress alone can fix it."
The big quotes

... from Nielsen on immigration:

  • "DHS will faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress, as we are sworn to do."
  • “Parents who entered illegally are by definition criminals ... by entering our country illegally often in dangerous circumstances, illegal immigrants have put their children at risk."
  • "The kids are being used as pawns by the smugglers and the traffickers."
  • "I find that offensive," in response to a suggestion that the policy is being used as a deterrent.
  • Despite several critics condemning the policy as "cruel" and "immoral," Nielsen maintained that: "We are a country of compassion. We are a country of heart."
  • "Since this time last year, there has been a 325% increase in unaccompanied alien children and a 435% increase in family units entering the country illegally."
Other issues

... Addressed by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders

  • Which immigration bill does Trump support? "There are currently two bills in process in the House. The president supports both those pieces of legislations (Bob Goodlatte's conservative bill and Paul Ryan's more moderate bill)."
  • Does Trump support a standalone bill fixing the child separation policy? Sanders said Trump wants a "comprehensive" bill. "We want to fix the entire system. We don't want to just tinker with it."
  • On Evangelical Christians opposing the policy: "Any church that feels strongly should open up their doors and facilitate some of these individuals." Sanders also encouraged them to call their members of Congress.
  • Whether Sanders is leaving the White House: Sanders said she was "falsely accused" of not wanting to be at the briefing.

Go deeper: Nielsen vs. the media on child separation

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.