There has been a 315 percent increase since last October in the number of illegal aliens “fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into the country,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday.
“This must stop. All this does is put the children at risk.” Nielsen said.
Speaking before the conference of the National Association of Sheriffs meeting in New Orleans, Nielsen declared that “We do not have the luxury of pretending that all individuals coming to this country as a family unit are, in fact, a family. We have to do our job, we will not apologize for doing our job — we have sworn to do this job.”
Nielsen’s comments came against a backdrop of intense media and political criticism of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Nielsen for enforcing aggressively laws against illegally entering the U.S.
When an illegally crossing parent is arrested and detained, any accompanying children can’t also be charged and detained, so law enforcement authorities must provide separate quarters for them, pending resolution of their parent’s status.
“There has been much outcry, consternation and, frankly, misinformation from many in the press, Congress and the advocacy groups over the last few weeks that we at DHS are intentionally doing things that are unhumanitarian, that are cruel, immoral and disgraceful,” Nielsen told the sheriffs.
“We are doing none of those things. We are enforcing the laws passed by Congress, and we are doing all that we can in the executive branch to protect our communities. It is now time for Congress to act to fix our broken immigration system,” she said.
“For the select few in the media, Congress and the advocacy community, I’d like to start with a message for you. This department will no longer stand by and watch you attack law enforcement for enforcing the laws passed by Congress. We will not apologize,” Nielsen emphasized.
The DHS chief blasted critics in the media, Congress, and the immigration amnesty advocates communities for misrepresenting the treatment such children receive from U.S. authorities.
“It is important to note that these minors are very well taken care of. Don’t believe the press, they are very well taken care of,” she told the sheriffs. “You know this, as many of you have detention facilities of your own. We operate according to some of the highest standards in the country. We provide food, medical, education and all needs that the child requests.”
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Nielsen said DHS and other law enforcement authorities are being asked “to look the other way when dealing with families at the border and not enforce the law passed by Congress … Past administrations may have done so, but we will not.
“This administration has a simple message: If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you. If you make a false immigration claim, we will prosecute you. If you smuggle illegal aliens across an extraordinarily dangerous journey, we will prosecute you.”
In a related development Monday, the conservative nonprofit government watchdog Judicial Watch announced it has filed a Freedom of Information Act suit in federal court seeking to force the Department of State to release documents regarding the resettlement in the U.S. of refugees from war-torn Syria.
Judicial Watch filed the suit after the department failed to respond to the group’s Feb. 17, 2017, FOIA request for documents seeking:
- All records reflecting the locations within the United States that were considered as possible sites for refugee resettlement under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) in 2015 and 2016.
- All records reflecting the criteria used to determine suitability of locations as refugee resettlement sites in 2015 and 2016.
- All records reflecting the names of local organizations promoting any of the locations identified above for consideration as refugee resettlement sites.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.