In her ongoing quest to get a basic acknowledgment of the facts from Trump administration officials, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is getting nowhere. She has confronted relevant individuals time and time again, and in one of her most recent fact-finding attempts, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen refused to acknowledge that housing children in a facility where they’re not allowed to leave from is detention.
Harris began Wednesday questioning of Nielsen by presenting the fact that despite her insistence that very same day before the U.S. Senate that the Department of Homeland Security via Customs and Border Patrol does not detain children, an inspector general report insists otherwise.
She’s made a similar claim in the past, to be sure, insisting that the Trump administration did not have a policy of separating undocumented immigrant families despite the fact that, well, it did. Nielsen is refusing to come out of her safe zone overgrown with rhetorical clapbacks that have little to do with reality, and we’re supposed to trust her to run the agency responsible for the United States’ homeland security? Seriously?
She began her response to Harris by attempting to focus the discussion to unaccompanied children that come into U.S. government custody, explaining:
‘When we apprehend a family unit — what you’re talking about as an unaccompanied child. We, as soon as possible, process that child, which means we give them an initial medical screen, we ascertain if they have family members as best we can in the United States…’
Harris cut in, trying to steer the conversation back to the heart of the matter — the fact that the Department of Homeland Security does, in fact, detain children. They’ve detained many thousands of children who arrived without anyone, and, infamously, they also took thousands of children into detention who had arrived here with someone, separating them from their families in the process.
Harris tore into Nielsen:
‘You testified that you do not detain the children. The IG report indicates that CBP has detained children, and not only has CBP detained children, they’ve detained them for longer than is statutorily allowed. How do you reconcile the IG report with your testimony?’
Nielsen refused to acknowledge the basic facts of the situation, apparently ready to rely more on rhetorical back-and-forth than on actual, you know, strategy.
She said, with Harris cutting in a couple of times throughout:
‘We do not detain children. What we do is when we apprehend them at a Border Patrol station, we process them, and as soon as there is room in an HHS facility, we transfer them…We are not able to, under the law, put them anywhere else, so we will care for them until bed space at a detention facility at HHS.. In other words, we do not have enough detention facility at HHS because 10,000 children were sent here unaccompanied and their parents chose to do that.’
There you have it folks — the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security refuses to acknowledge the basics of a policy implemented by her agency. Meanwhile, detained children continue to suffer through means including reported widespread physical abuse and subhuman conditions in facilities — and Nielsen says it’s the children’s parents’ fault.
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