Democrats Slam Kirstjen Nielsen Over Border Comments

President Donald Trump talks to reporters during a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Together with immigration rights activists, Democrats are pushing back against Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s recent comments pertaining to the alleged humanitarian crisis at the border, The Hill reports.

In a recent letter to Congress, Nielsen stated that law enforcement has been effectively forced to choose between taking care of asylum seekers, and protecting the ports of entry, painting a picture of a full-blown crisis. Nielsen sent the letter to request an increase in funding for border security, and broader powers to detain and deport migrants.

Echoing his Homeland Security Secretary, President Trump vowed to close the southern border if Mexico doesn’t help stop traveling migrants.

“The system is in freefall. DHS is doing everything possible to respond to a growing humanitarian catastrophe while also securing our borders, but we have reached peak capacity and are now forced to pull from other missions to respond to the emergency,” Nielsen said in a statement.

An immigration hardliner, President Donald Trump has enacted tough immigration policies, in what he claims is an effort to curb illegal immigration and stop the influx of illicit substances. Trump has still not built a wall on the southern border, although he forced a partial government shutdown over it.

The crisis at the southern border is real, according to Democrats and immigration activists, not because there isn’t a wall, but because of the Trump administration’s policies.

House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson pushed back against Nielsen’s remarks, accusing her of “confusing and misleading” the public. Thompson said that the Trump administration, and President Donald Trump’s policies, are to blame for “making the difficult situation at the border worse.”

Echoing his Democratic colleague, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquín Castro accused the Trump administration of “exacerbating” the border crisis, arguing that Nielsen’s proposals would only hurt asylum seekers, instead of helping them.

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Texas Representative Vicente Gonzalez hit back at President Donald Trump directly, opining that his threats of closing the U.S.-Mexico border are “reflective” of his “obsession with partisan talking points and campaign rallies.”

As The Hill notes, both sides appear to be acknowledging that there is indeed a humanitarian crisis at the border, but there is a disagreement about what is causing it. The Democrats are blaming Trump, and Trump is blaming them.

Immigration rights activists have sided with the opposition party, however.

Ur Jaddou, director of the progressive immigration watchdog group DHS Watch, called for the firing of Secretary Nielsen, arguing that the Trump administration is to blame for the problems at the southern border.