White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed mounting criticism of the administration’s separation of children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border during Monday’s news briefing.
Facing rising outrage from some Republicans as well as Democrats over the forced separation of migrant children and parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, President Donald Trump dug in Monday, again falsely blaming Democrats and declaring he would keep the U.S. from becoming “a migrant camp.”
Democrats have turned up the pressure over the administration policy, and some Republicans have joined the chorus of criticism. Former first lady Laura Bush has called the separation policy “cruel” and “immoral” while GOP Sen. Susan Collins expressed concern about it and a former adviser to Trump questioned using the policy to pressure Democrats on immigration legislation.
Trump continued to cast blame on Democrats Monday, as he detoured from planned remarks on U.S. space policy to defend his administration’s policies. “I say it’s very strongly the Democrats’ fault,” he said at the White House.
“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he added. “Not on my watch.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen rejected criticism accusing her department of inhuman and immoral actions.
“We are doing none of those things. We are enforcing the laws passed by Congress,” she said in an appearance before the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans. Like Trump, she called on Congress to reform immigration laws.
Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.
The PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.