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DHS denies separating families seeking asylum

Central American asylum seekers wait as U.S. Border Patrol agents take groups of them into custody near McAllen, Texas last week. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images
Central American asylum seekers wait as U.S. Border Patrol agents take groups of them into custody near McAllen, Texas last week. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied on Sunday multiple published reports that federal authorities have been separating immigrant children from their parents seeking asylum when apprehended at the border.

"This misreporting by Members, press & advocacy groups must stop. It is irresponsible and unproductive. ... You are not breaking the law by seeking asylum at a port of entry. For those seeking asylum at ports of entry, we have continued the policy from previous Administrations and will only separate if the child is in danger, there is no custodial relationship between 'family' members, or if the adult has broken a law. ... We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period."

The backstory: Her remarks came in response to a letter Republican Senators Susan Collins and Jeff Flake sent to Kirstjen Nielsen and HHS Secretary Alex Azar this weekend to clarify whether families are separated when they seek asylum and how often such practice occurs