Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, on Wednesday implored Congress to confront what she called a "humanitarian catastrophe" on the southern border by supporting President Donald Trump's call for a border wall and changing laws to crack down on asylum-seekers and illegal border-crossers.
While Nielsen appeared before the committee, Rep. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) asked the DHS secretary how she responded when she first learned that children were being taken away from their parents at the border. "It's because these are children", she said.
She said they are anticipating almost 1 million illegal immigrants caught at the border in fiscal year 2019. "She's defying the obvious in the most Trump-like way", Brzezinski said. "To make matters worse, the administration bungled implementation of its cruel plan, losing track of children and even deporting parents to Central America without their children".
Around the time, Nielsen repeatedly denied that the Department of Homeland Security had a policy of routinely separating migrant children from their parents at the border despite mounting evidence that thousands of families had been broken apart.
Nielsen was asked whether she had helped Trump decide on the national emergency.
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"I don't have that number in front of me", Nielsen said. "I saw the cyclone fences that were made as cages-and you did too". Democrats were "just choosing to ignore it". Since Democrats took control of the House, they have prioritized investigating last year's family separations and have subpoenaed documents related to the policy. And Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan was forced to rehash the botched rollout of that policy to skeptical lawmakers.
McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said cartels are "profiting tremendously" off the misery of migrants, who pay $5,000 or more per person to wait in stash houses, then are guided across the border and driven into the US interior. "This is an 80-percent increase over the same time previous year, and I can report today that CBP (Customs and Border Protection) is forecasting the problem will get even worse this spring as the weather warms up".
The new figures reflect the difficulties Trump has faced as he tries to cut down on illegal immigration, his signature issue.
The Senate is expected to vote next week and join the House in rejecting his national emergency declaration aimed at building border walls, but Trump would nearly certainly veto the measure and the issue is likely to be settled in the courts.
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