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19 June 2018, 04:30 | Bernice Figueroa
Almost 2,000 children were separated from adults at the US-Mexico border, officials say.
Elected officials from MA are calling out President Donald Trump's top Homeland Security official for her defense of the administration's decision to separate immigrant children from their families at the border.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen targeted those groups by name in a series of tweets on Sunday night.
The backlash against the tactic grew into a protest march on Sunday, with hundreds of people heading to a tent city in Tornillo, Texas, where children have been detained near El Paso.
Secretary Nielsen tried to suggest the problem was with the Dept. of Health and Human Services, and not DHS.
Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy, in which every person crossing the border illegally would be criminally prosecuted, having the effect of children being separated from their parents. "And until these loopholes are closed by Congress, it is not possible as a matter of law to detain and remove whole family units who arrive illegally in the United States", Nielsen said.
First lady Melania Trump said she hates to see families torn apart.
The DHS official also rejected as "not true" various reports of wrongdoing, including the turning away of some asylum-seekers. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart".
In South Texas on Sunday, several Democratic lawmakers, including Senator Jeff Merkley, visited a Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen to call attention to the policy, while Representative Beto O'Rourke, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Texas, led a protest march to a temporary detention facility for immigrant children set up near El Paso.
Nielsen was more blunt, blaming Congress for the administration's predicament: Let the adults go free with the children, which is against the law, or prosecute the adults and take care of the children.
"We no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law", Nielsen said of law changes.
"It's hard for me to enjoy Father's Day knowing what's happening to other children and families", he said.
"There's different elements of the government that don't understand what's really going on". The legislation wouldn't explicitly forbid the incarceration of children alongside their parents. The previous about year, it was nearly 700.
"We have a statutory responsibility that we take seriously to protect alien children", she said.
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