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Photo: Olivier Douliery, Pool/Getty Images

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the Trump administration's controversial "zero tolerance" border policy that criminally prosecutes every adult illegally crossing the border — a move that has separated almost 2,000 children from their parents — during remarks at the National Sheriffs' Association conference Monday morning.

The big picture: Nielsen said that Border Patrol officers are enforcing laws passed by Congress, adding that Americans shouldn't "believe the press" when it comes to the treatment of minors. (Enforcing the family separation policy is not a law and is solely the Trump administration's decision.) Commenting on the policy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said, "If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally."

What she said:

  • "It is important to note these minors are very well taken care of. Don't believe the press."
  • "Illegal actions have and must have consequences, no more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards. In communities every day, if you commit a crime police will take you to jail regardless of whether you have a family."
  • "Surely it is the beginning of the unraveling of democracy when the body that makes the laws rather than change them asks the body that enforces them not to enforce the law, that cannot be the answer."

The backdrop: The policy has garnered criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including from prominent Republicans like former First Lady Laura Bush and Sen. Lindsey Graham. First Lady Melania Trump also issued a statement saying she "hates to see" families being separated.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
28 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Carbon emissions are roaring back from COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: IEA Global Energy Review 2021; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global energy-related carbon emissions will surge this year as coal, oil and natural gas consumption return from the pandemic that caused an unprecedented emissions decline, the International Energy Agency estimated Tuesday.

Why it matters: The projected rise of nearly 5% would be the largest since the "carbon intensive" recovery from the financial crisis over a decade ago, IEA said, putting emissions just below their 2019 peak.

51 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

Jurors resume deliberations as the nation awaits Chauvin verdict

Protesters outside Hennepin County Government Center on the day of closing arguments. Photo: Christopher Mark Juhn/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial resume deliberations Tuesday morning as the nation waits for a verdict.

The latest: The 12 jurors met behind closed doors for about three hours Monday before breaking for the night at 7pm.

John Frank, author of Denver
51 mins ago - Axios Denver

What national marijuana legalization would mean for Colorado

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Colorado's cannabis industry is enjoying an era of prosperity as national attitudes toward marijuana become more relaxed.

Driving the news: 17 states have legalized recreational marijuana sales and pot enjoys its highest popularity ever with 68% of adults backing legalization, according to a recent Gallup poll.