Immigrant advocates say that holding immigrants eligible for parole diminishes their chances of making a solid case to stay; it's more hard to educate themselves about the process or get legal help.
Lawmakers across the U.S. political spectrum have attacked President Donald Trump, Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions for splitting up families along the U.S. -Mexico border, with almost 2,000 children sent to mass detention centers or foster care from mid-April to the end of May.
In recent days, authorities on the border have begun allowing tightly controlled tours of the facilities that are meant to put a humane face on the policy. Outcry has come from Democratic and Republican lawmakers as well as the United Nations and religious leaders. As a result, the Homeland Security Department has ratcheted up criminal prosecutions of adult border crossers, removing any children traveling with them and detaining them separately.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said Monday that seeking to deter parents by inflicting abuse on children is "unconscionable". Families were also referred for civil deportation proceedings, and therefore were not separated. "It's about family. It's about who we are as a country". "The narratives we don't see are the narratives of the crime, of the opioids, of the smugglers, of people who are killed by gang members, of American children who are recruited and then, when they lose the drugs, they're Tased and beaten".
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also defended the policy last week, citing a Bible verse often used to justify slavery and the Holocaust to defend the administration's decision.
Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from ME, said the policy is "inconsistent with our American values," adding that "we need to fix our immigration laws, but using children is not the answer".
Asylum seekers, Nielsen said, should follow the established process.
"Either own it or change it", Kennedy tweeted Sunday. "That can not be the answer". "They can go to our ports of entry if they want to claim asylum". How long would it take Trump to dump child separation if, say, Kim and Kanye made a direct personal appeal?
Administration officials are quick to note that Sessions' policy makes no mention of separating families. "They are very well taken care of", she said. "If you smuggle aliens. we will prosecute you".
Nielsen insisted Congress and the courts had created the problem, and she claimed only those two branches of government could fix it - but Brzezinski called her out. "Are you intending to send a message?"
"The government should be in the business of keeping families together, not tearing them apart", Harris said in her statement. "Rather than fixing the law, Congress is asking those who enforce the law to turn our backs on the law and not enforce the law". "It's a simple choice", she said.
Speaking before the conference of the National Association of Sheriffs meeting in New Orleans, Nielsen declared that "We do not have the luxury of pretending that all individuals coming to this country as a family unit are, in fact, a family".
"As (GOP Rep. Steve Scalise) said, it is an issue that every one of the last four administration has faced".