Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign in light of her failed leadership and enforcement of inhumane immigration policies.
“The government should be in the business of keeping families together, not tearing them apart. And the government should have a commitment to transparency and accountability,” Harris said in a statement. “Under Secretary Nielsen’s tenure, the Department of Homeland Security has a track record of neither. As a result, she must resign.”
Nielsen has defended the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separates children from their families at the border.
Blaming a broken system, she said Monday:
“We have to do our job, we will not apologize for doing for our job, we have sworn to do this job. This administration has a simple message: If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you. If you make a false immigration claim, we will prosecute you. If you smuggle illegal aliens across an extraordinarily dangerous journey, we will prosecute you.”
According to Harris, it’s not only the administration’s inhumane treatment of immigrant families that makes Nielsen unfit to lead DHS. As secretary, she has not been forthcoming with information when asked for it.
“I have, since March of 2017, repeatedly asked for complete data on the number of children separated and what training and protocol exists for carrying out such separations. In response, the leadership of this department has routinely failed to provide complete answers to questions from me and my colleagues,” Harris said.
At least 2,000 children have been separated from their families since the Trump administration began enforcing its policy.
In addition to withholding information, Nielsen, like Trump, has blatantly lied. She echoed Trump’s repeated falsehoods about the policy. “Our policy at DHS is to do what we’re sworn to do, which is to enforce the law,” she said.
But there is no law that demands children and families be torn apart. This is a lie that Trump has spread, saying that he is enforcing a Democratic policy.
“The Department’s lack of transparency under Secretary Nielsen’s leadership combined with her record of misleading statements including yesterday’s denial that the Administration even had a policy of separating children at the border, are disqualifying,” Harris said. “We must speak the truth. There is no law that says the Administration has to rip children from their families.”
Despite Trump’s attempts to make this a partisan issue, former presidents from both sides have been against attempts to keep families apart.
All four living former first ladies — Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and Rosalynn Carter — have come out against the policy.
Bush penned an opinion piece for the Washington Post, which Obama retweeted with a simple but powerful message.
“Sometimes truth transcends party.”
A host of fellow Democrats have also come out in support of Harris. Fellow senators include Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn). Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) also said Nielsen needs to step down.