Published: Tue, June 19, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Advocacy groups mobilizing supporters to end the 'zero-tolerance' immigration policy

Advocacy groups mobilizing supporters to end the 'zero-tolerance' immigration policy

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the Trump administration's highly scrutinized immigration policy Monday while at the same time calling on Congress to change the law.

Based on Homeland Security policy and what CBS News has seen in person, claims that all kids are being separated from their parents at the border is false.

In May, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy in which all those apprehended entering the United States illegally, including those seeking asylum, would be criminally charged, which generally leads to children being separated from their parents.

Speaking at a White House briefing Monday, Nielsen says the issue has been growing for years and is the product of loopholes that have created an open border.

At a conference Monday morning, Nielsen doubled down and said her department is just "enforcing the laws passed by Congress" and would "not apologize for doing our job".

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The president however, does not appear to be backing away from the "zero tolerance" policy, after complaining for months about the country's practice of "catch and release" for immigrants crossing the border illegally. "While we must work towards a solution that reduces the occurrence of illegal border crossings, it is unacceptable to separate young children from their parents", Republican Rep. David Valadao of Hanford said in a statement to McClatchy.

Trump has sought to blame Democrats, saying their support for passage of a broader immigration bill would end the separations. "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.

John Cornyn, another Republican senator from Texas, said he's going to introduce an updated version of a 2014 bill he backed alongside a Democratic representative.

That's from WaPo, which reported in the same piece that Trump is known to tell aides that Nielsen's "not tough enough" and that she's a "Bush person".

Nielsen argued that some children are separated from their parents when they fail to provide documentation proving the familial relationship.

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Sessions cited a Bible passage to defend the administration's policies after the separations sparked widespread outrage and criticism from religious leaders and immigration advocates. "We are a country of compassion, we are a country of heart". A group of Republicans in Congress asked President Trump to scale back to the practice. "But now, it is the exclusive product of loopholes in our federal immigration laws that prevent illegal immigrant minors and family members from being detained and removed to their home countries".

Nielsen stressed that families seeking asylum at border entries are not breaking the law.

"It is inconsistent with our American values to separate these children from their parents", Collins said on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

Nielsen noted how the administration saw a 315 percent increase in immigrants "fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into this country" from October 2017 to this past February.

Previously, families crossing the border together would normally be released into the US with an order to appear in immigration court.

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