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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Source: PBS.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Source: PBS.

DHS head on family separation: 'We are not doing any of that'

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen has defended her department's measures on border crossings, assuring that "if you have committed a crime you…

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After the harsh criticism that the measures of separation of families at the border have provoked, the government of Donald Trump insists that it is only enforcing the law.

Since last April, the policy of "zero tolerance" established by the Trump administration sought the separation of immigrant families detained for immigrating without papers as a coercive measure to instill fear and make "people think twice" before entering the country illegally.

It's all part of an attempt to "stop as many immigrants as possible," Vox explains, "even if they are seeking asylum, which is a legal right."

U.S. laws have long allowed immigrant children to be released "without unnecessary delay," along with their parents, something the government has described as "loopholes" and which they have decided to solve through the detention of parents and the separation of minors who are prosecuted as "unaccompanied foreign children," as if they had "crossed the border alone".

During a press conference on Monday, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said that "there has been a lot of criticism, concern and, frankly, disinformation" with regard to the measures that have been classified as "cruel, inhuman, immoral and shameful".

"We are not doing any of that. We are only enforcing the laws passed by Congress, and we are doing everything possible in the executive branch to protect our communities," she said.

Nielsen said something similar on Sunday when she wrote on her Twitter account that "we do not have a policy of separating families on the border. Period".

What’s happening then?

According to the Washington Post, it is true that there is no such policy because the law does not contemplate it, but a consequence of the new "zero tolerance" policy is indeed the separation of families.

"There is no existing policy from the department in which people arriving at the border with their children see those children taken away," explains the newspaper. "Instead, there is a policy that has the effect of separating hundreds of children from their parents," but it has been raised by Nielsen as a side effect of the new detention measures in order to "soften the effect of photos of children barricaded in ad hoc chain-link enclosures."

However, government officials can’t seem to agree on the reality of the matter.

For Stephen Miller, one of the president's chief advisors, "it was a simple decision of the administration to have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law," the New York Times reported.

Likewise, Marc Short, the president's liaison to Capitol Hill, told the Wall Street Journal that "it is an incredibly complicated policy" and that "we must do a better job of communicating it."

For his part, president Trump has blamed his opposition for the separation of families as a product of a "law" approved by the Democrats, ensuring that "they must change their law."

But Nielsen's latest statements seem to show that either the government prefers to continue using "confuse and conquer" techniques when implementing inhuman immigration policies, or simply has no idea what they are doing.

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