Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen spoke on Wednesday about President Donald Trump’s family separation policy, and her comments have not gone down very well.
According to Vox, Nielsen seemed wholly unprepared when she arrived at the hearing, which was called by the House majority Democrats. As part of her testimony, she had one particularly shocking exchange with Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, during which she tried to explain that the cages children are being kept in are different from those that dogs are kept in.
She first started by trying to redefine a cage, after Watson Coleman asked what she would define a “chain-link fence, enclosed into a chamber on a concrete floor” as. Nielsen explained to her those are detention centers, which have existed since long before Trump took up office in January 2017.
Watson Coleman persisted.
“Does it differ from the cages you put your dogs in when you let them stay outside, is it different?”
Nielsen insisted it is, explaining that the detention centers the children are being kept in are “larger, it has facilities, it provides room to sit, to stand, to lay down.”
The representative was not exactly impressed with Nielsen’s explanation, interrupting her to point out that her dog’s cage also has room to sit, stand, and lay down.
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen scheduled to testify Wednesday morning before the House Homeland Security Committee about her role in spearheading the implementation of the Trump administration's hardline immigration agenda https://t.co/spRyBlGaSq pic.twitter.com/kPvpT99sWn
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 6, 2019
When speaking to House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, Nielsen reiterated her firm belief that the cages are actually not cages.
“Sir, they are not cages, they are areas of the border facility that are carved out for the safety and protection of those who remain there while they’re being processed.”
Thompson clapped back at her quickly, saying only, “Don’t mislead the committee.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley felt that Nielsen’s insistence on calling them detention centers instead of cages was nothing more than semantics. He took to Twitter to express his disappointment in Nielsen’s testimony, stating that having seen the “detention centers” with his own eyes, he will confirm they are, in fact, cages.
Almost 3,000 children were taken from their parents during 2018, mostly parents who had arrived at the border to seek asylum in the United States.
Most of them are still in detention facilities across the border states, with Nielsen confirming that some of the children’s parents have since been deported before they were reunited with their kids. She did, however, try to blame the parents, stating they were given “multiple opportunities to take their children with them.”