This is a transcript of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s remarks Monday to reporters at the White House.
Well, good afternoon. It is my pleasure to be here because I would love to see if I can help explain some of what’s going on and give you some of the facts. I know there have been a lot put out there, but hopefully we can clarify some things today.
I just wanted to start by thanking the sheriffs of the United States. I had the privilege of speaking to them this morning at the National Sheriffs’ Association Conference. We are so thankful for their partnership at DHS and all they do to protect our community. So I thank them.
So I want to provide you an update on the illegal immigration crisis on our southern border and the effects—the efforts the administration is taking to solve this crisis and to stop the flood of illegal immigrants, drugs, contraband, and crime coming across the border.
So let’s just start with a few numbers and facts. So in the last three months, we have seen illegal immigration on our southern border exceed 50,000 people each month. Multiples over each month last year.
Since this time last year, there has been a 325 percent increase in unaccompanied alien children and a 435 percent increase in family units entering the country illegally.
Over the last 10 years, there has been a 1,700 percent increase in asylum claims, resulting in asylum backlog to date, on our country, of 600,000 cases.
Since 2013, the United States has admitted more than half a million illegal immigrant minors and family units from Central America, most of whom today are at large in the United States. At the same time, large criminal organizations such as MS-13 have violated our borders and gained a deadly foothold within the United States.
This entire crisis, just to be clear, is not new. It’s been occurring and expanded over many decades. But currently, 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.
In other words, these loopholes create a functionally open border. Apprehension without detention and removal is not border security. We have repeatedly called on Congress to close these loopholes. I myself have met with as many members have been willing to meet with me. I’ve testified seven times. I will continue to make myself available to ask that they work with us to solve this crisis.
Yet the voices most loudly criticizing the enforcement of our current laws are those whose policies created this crisis and whose policies perpetrate it.
In particular, we need to reform three major loopholes. Let me quickly walk you through them. First, we need to amend the 2008 Trafficking Victims Prevention Reauthorization Act, or TVPR—which is much easier to say. This law encourages families to put children in the hands of smugglers to bring them alone on this dangerous trek northward. And make no mistake, we’ve talked about this before—this trek is dangerous and deadly.
Second, we need to reform our asylum laws to end the systemic abuse of our asylum system and stop fraud. Right now, our asylum system fails to assist asylum-seekers who legitimately need it. We are a country of compassion. We are a country of heart. We must fix the system so that those who truly need asylum can, in fact, receive it.
Third, we need to amend the Flores Settlement Agreement and recent expansions which currently allow for—which would allow for family detention during the removal process. And we need Congress to fully fund our ability to hold families together through the immigration process.
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.
Congress and the courts created this problem, and Congress alone can fix it. Until then, we will enforce every law we have on the books to defend the sovereignty and security of the United States. Those who criticize the enforcement of our laws have offered only one countermeasure: open borders; the quick release of all illegal alien families and the decision not to enforce our laws. This policy would be disastrous. Its prime beneficiaries would be the smuggling organizations themselves, and the prime victims would be the children who would be plunged into the smuggling machines and get gang recruitment on the trip north.
There’s a lot of misinformation about what DHS is and is not doing as it relates to families at the border and I want to correct the record. Here are the facts:
First, this administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border. We have a statutory responsibility that we take seriously to protect alien children from human smuggling, trafficking, and other criminal actions while enforcing our immigration laws.
We have a long-existing policy. Multiple administrations have followed that outline when we may take action to protect children. We will separate those who claim to be a parent and child if we cannot determine a familial or custodial relationship exists.
For example, if there’s no documentation to confirm the claimed relationship between an adult and a child, we do so if the parent is a national security, public, or safety risk, including when there are criminal charges at issue and it may not be appropriate to maintain the family in detention together.
We also separate a parent and child if the adult is suspected of human trafficking. There have been cases where minors have been used and trafficked by unrelated adults in an effort to avoid detention. And I’d stop here to say, in the last five months, we have a 314 percent increase in adults and children arriving at the border, fraudulently claiming to be a family unit. This is, obviously, of concern.
And separation can occur when the parent is charged with human smuggling. Under those circumstances, we would detain the parent in an appropriate secure detention facility separate from the child.
What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law. Everyone is subject to prosecution. When DHS refers a case against a parent or legal guardian for criminal prosecution, the parent or legal guardian will be placed into the U.S. Marshals Service custody for pretrial determination, pursuant to an order by a federal judge. And any accompanied child will be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services and will be reclassified as an unaccompanied alien child. That is in accordance with the TVPRA—a law that was passed by Congress—and a following court order, neither which are actions the Trump administration has taken.
And let’s be clear: If an American were to commit a crime anywhere in the United States, they would go to jail and they would be separated from their family. This is not a controversial idea.
Second, children in DHS and HHS custody are being well taken care of. The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement provides meals, medical care, and educational services to these children. They are provided temporary shelter. And HHS works hard to find a parent, relative, or foster home to care for these children. Parents can still communicate with their children through phone calls and video conferencing.
And a parent who is released from custody can be a sponsor and ask HHS to release the child back into their care. Further, these minors can still apply for asylum and other protections under U.S. immigration law, if eligible.
We take allegations of mistreatment seriously. And I want to stress this point: we investigate. We hold those accountable when, and if, it should occur. We have some of the highest detention standards in the country. Claiming these children and their parents are treated inhumanely is not true and completely disrespects the hardworking men and women at the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Third, parents who entered illegally are, by definition, criminals. Illegal entry is a crime as determined by Congress. By entering our country illegally, often in dangerous circumstances, illegal immigrants have put their children at risk.
Fourth, CBP and ICE officers are properly trained to care for minors in their custody. DHS and HHS treats all individuals in its custody with dignity and respect, and complies with all laws and policy. This reinforces and reiterates the needs to consider the best interest of the children, and mandates adherence to establish protocols to protect at-risk populations, to include standards for the transport and treatment of minors in DHS and HHS custody.
Additionally, all U.S. Border Patrol personnel in the southwest border are bilingual—every last one of them. They are directed to clearly explain the relevant process to apprehended individuals, and provide detainees with written documentation in both Spanish and English that lays out the process and appropriate phone numbers to contact.
And finally, DHS is not separating families legitimately seeking asylum at ports of entry. If an adult enters at a port of entry and claims asylum, they will not face prosecution for illegal entry. They have not committed a crime by coming to the port of entry.
As I mentioned, DHS does have a responsibility to protect minors. And in that case, as well, we will only separate the family if we cannot determine there is a familiar relationship, if the child may be at risk with the parent or legal guardian, or if the parent or legal guardian is referred for prosecution.
We have a duty to protect the American people, and it’s one that I take very seriously. Here is the bottom line: DHS is no longer ignoring the law. We are enforcing the laws as they exist on the books. As long as illegal entry remains a criminal offense, DHS will not look the other way. DHS will faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress, as we are sworn to do.
As I said earlier today, surely it is the beginning of the unraveling of democracy when the body who makes the laws, instead of changing them, tells the enforcement body not to enforce the law. I ask Congress to act this week so that we can secure our borders and uphold our humanitarian ideas. These two missions should not be pitted against each other. If we close the loopholes, we can accomplish both.
Before I take questions, I just want to ask that, in your reporting, please consider the men and women of DHS who are dedicated law enforcement officers and who often put their lives at risk. Let’s remember their sacrifice and commitment to this country.
From - The Daily Signal - by Kirstjen Nielsen
(Gateway Pundit) – In November ungrateful Honduran migrant “Lady Frijoles” upset her Mexican caretakers when she complained to reporters about the free beans and tortillas provided to the members of the caravan camping out in Tijuana, Mexico.Mirian Celaya, the infamous “Lady Frijoles,” later went missing. Of course, many leftists and illegal migrant supporters thought she was the victim of violence.
This weekend Mirian was filmed in Dallas, Texas eating at a local restaurant.
Her sister posted video on Instagram of the two sisters in Dallas.
When everyone wondered where Mirian Celaya is, the Honduran migrant who despised Mexican beans, she was already crossing to the US.
And in the last hours have circulated videos of the Honduran controversy with his sister, celebrating his arrival in the ‘American dream’.
“Here is my sister, for all those who hurt my sister, all those who said she was dead,” says Mirian’s sister in tears.
Birthright in Houston had translators to help the illegal women en that are pregnant. They women pay to be smuggled in, moved in with other illegals and then get pregnant. They don’t even k now who the father is. Their only goal is to have a baby then they can get a SSN for him and of course citizenship. Mexican lawyers in Houston run a revolving door –building on Greens road. Illegals are arrested, the lawyers collected from the government for sending them back, a few weeks later illegals are back and the procedure starts all over again. Medicaid for illegals should be abolished. I was at my gyneologist and this woman and her mother signed in. Receptionist marked the paper medicaid in big letters. They had more expensive clothes and purses than us and expensive rings and bracelets. American citizens can hardly afford medical care. But they all get gold cards as soon as they smuggle into the country. If a poor AMERICAN CITIZEN CANNOT AFFORD INSURANCE AND NEEDS CARE HE IS SENT TO A HOSPITAL THE TAKES CHARITY CASES AND HE IS NOT TREATED VERY NICELY. THEY KNOW THAT THEY GET ALL THESE PERKS AND THE TAXPAYERS FOOTING THE BILL. STOP SUPPORTING THEM.. DURING T2009 WHEN PEOPLE lost their jobs, American citizens were living in tents or at Walmart and carrying around their few possessions in shopping carts while whole hotels and buildings were outfitted to house the illegals, they ere given free phones and phone service, monthly allowance. It is time for voters to wake up and not let happen what happened during the mid term election happen again. People like Ocasio do not belong in Congress. Neither do moslem people who are going to take the oath on the Koran, what the hell is going on? I love my country and kit breaks my heart seeing it being destroyed.
Make the Marxist Demorats pay dearly for this treason in 2020
“Second, children in DHS and HHS custody are being well taken care of. The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement provides meals, medical care, and educational services to these children. They are provided temporary shelter. And HHS works hard to find a parent, relative, or foster home to care for these children. Parents can still communicate with their children through phone calls and video conferencing.”
I believe it is commendable that DHS and HHS goes to such lengths to be sure that illegal immigrant children and youth are safe and well cared for. May of them arrive at our borders with NO family, and are essentially on their own to try and navigate our systems here.
To me, it’s the Christian thing for our country to do, to work hard and try to find a parent, relative, or foster parents to care for them and provide safe shelter, three good meals for them, and six hours of education per day, including instruction in the use of English. The Jewish faith also counsels “hospitality to the stranger in our midst.”
Thank you Secretary Nielson of the DHS. You are without a doubt a very strong person handing a most difficult issue at this time. You have to be commended for the outstanding manner in which you are directing the DHS. Wish we had many more strong dedicated personnel in the Government. “God Bless you each and every day”
The President has done well in appointing Secretary Nielson the DHS. She is well spoken and has evidently done her homework. May God bless her.
All these realities existed under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations and the media didn’t say a word. The media kept silent under the Clinton and Obama years, because a Democrat occupied the White House and was busy promoting the progressive agenda. So a free pass and any such stories of faux moral outrage were largely ignored or brushed under the rug. Under the Bush administration, the media was busy referring to Bush and Republicans as Hitler, Satan, and the usual litany of false charges used to intimidate Republicans into submission. Which for the most part was quite successful. So there was no need for the media and the Democrats to resort to manufacturing the concerted faux morale outrage and concern for children they actually view as little more than useful props in order to subdue a Republican President. Since President Trump has so far been able to fight off or nullify the media’s and Democrat’s attempts to derail his presidency, the Media and Democrats simply decided to manufacture this latest crisis to see if they could get the kind of political traction they would need to sway the public ahead of the upcoming mid-terms.
Let’s remember that the Clinton administration actually passed the enabling legislation, which was pushed by many of the Democrats now howling about it, that created these loopholes the left is now ranting about non-stop. The Uber left 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that minor children HAD TO BE SEPARATED from their parents, when parents or those bringing them into the country illegally faced criminal charges. This I believe was in 2009, which was the Obama administration. That the pictures you see of children in cages were from the Obama administration. So this policy is not something dreamed up one day by Trump. This is the law that the Democrats voted for and passed. This is the method the law must be enforced that the leftist 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided in 2009. Which is all President Trump has been doing.
Under Obama, he instituted “catch and release”, which essentially meant Border Patrol agents just arrested illegals entering the country, issued them a court summon and then released them. By the government’s own records, 90 percent of illegals issued a summons never bothered to show up and the government has NO IDEA where they are in the country now. So de-facto open borders. So again, all this faux morale outrage and howling from the left is simply political theater being put on to try and sway the public ahead of the mid-terms. Chuck Schumer has said he won’t cooperate on ANY legislation the Republicans put forth to address this issue. He and the rest of the Democrat Party want one thing only: Total open borders, amnesty of the 40 million illegals currently in our country and an immediate path to citizenship and the right to vote for all of them. That has been and still is their idea of “comprehensive immigration reform”. So they will leverage anything they can, including pictures and videos of screaming babies, to get it. The only question is whether the American people are smart enough to see past the carefully tailored theater they are watching or will they be stupid enough to allow themselves to be manipulated emotionally to give the Democrats exactly what they want.