DHS Secretary calls on Congress to "fix" child separation policy

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

What's next

⚖️ Live updates: Democrats close out their opening arguments

House managers wrapped up their three-day impeachment presentation with a direct appeal to the senators to think about the precedent their actions — or more notably their inaction — would have on democracy and Congress’ future ability to serve as a check on the president.

The close: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) anticipated attacks on him, other House managers, the Ukraine whistleblower, and the Bidens from Trump's team, which begins its defense of the president on Saturday. He appealed directly to GOP senators: “Real political courage does not come from disagreement with our opponents, but disagreeing with our friends and our own party.”

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020 - Politics

Death toll climbs in coronavirus outbreak

41 people have died from an outbreak of a coronavirus strain that originated in Wuhan, China, AP reports.

The latest: The respiratory illness has made its way to Europe, with France confirming three cases, Reuters reports. France's Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said Friday two patients are hospitalized in Paris. The other case is in the southwestern city of Bordeaux. They had returned from a trip that had a stop in Wuhan.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020 - World

Lawyer alleges Giuliani associate recorded Trump comments on Ukrainian ambassador

Photo: Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The lawyer for Lev Parnas, a Rudy Giuliani associate, claims there is a recording of President Trump saying former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch should be fired, the Daily Beast reports.

The latest: Parnas said on Friday that he has turned the recording over to the House Intelligence Committee, per the New York Times — as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) led House Democrats in laying out the case for impeaching Trump before the Senate.