During a White House briefing that followed days of wall-to-wall coverage of the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy at the border, the US Department of Homeland Security secretary denied claims that migrant children and their parents are being treated inhumanely at the border.
The zero-tolerance policy - which also affects asylum seekers who by definition, as Nielsen admits, are not entering the country illegally - resulted in almost 2,000 children being separated from their parents in a span of six weeks after it was first implemented in early April, according to the Associated Press.
Democratic lawmakers joined hundreds of protesters outside an immigration detention facility in New Jersey on Sunday for a Father's Day demonstration against the Trump administration's practice of separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
The policy has resulted in almost 2,000 minors separated from their families over six weeks, and is drawing strong criticism from lawmakers from both parties and advocates who call the tactic inhumane.
Nielsen ultimately said that the children in custody are well taken care of and that they may still communicate with their parents in some cases, but said that the separation policy is still necessary until Congress is able to change the law.
"Let's be honest. There are some who would like us to look the other way when dealing with families at the border and not enforce the law passed by Congress", she said.
Trump's Republican party holds a majority in both houses of Congress but itself is divided on immigration policies.
This is something that was enacted after the Attorney General announced the zero tolerance policy.
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"We do not have the luxury of pretending that all individuals coming to this country as a family unit are in fact a family", she said.
Some Republicans have split with the administration on the issue. Sen.
"Think of all the aid that we give some of these countries", he said.
"The government should be in the business of keeping families together, not tearing them apart", Harris sad in statement. "She said this is not being used as a pawn for legislation, yet that's exactly what the President said it was, that this was legislative leverage".
Photos taken inside the facilities showed hundreds of migrants, including children, sleeping inside metal cages, on mattresses on the ground, and wrapped in foil blankets. Reporters attempted to ask her questions about the material in the recording - including "How is this not child abuse?" - but she did not respond directly. "Who in America could do this?" "You look at what's happening in Europe, you look at what's happening in other places; we can't allow that to happen to the United States, not on my watch".
The border is "being overrun by those who have no right to cross it". "We will have a system where those who need to apply for asylum can do so and those who want to come to this country will apply legally", he said.