DHS secretary clarifies circumstances for separating immigrant families

The Trump administration separates immigrant families only when it's necessary to protect the children, the secretary...

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 8:02 AM
Updated: Apr 12, 2018 8:02 AM

The Trump administration separates immigrant families only when it's necessary to protect the children, the secretary of homeland security said Wednesday, though she added that in at least one case the process "took too long."

Advocacy groups have been accusing the Department of Homeland Security of separating immigrant families in detention or as they await court proceedings, though there has been no clear evidence it is a widespread practice.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Wednesday at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee that there is no policy that encourages the separation of parents from their children as a punitive or deterrence measure -- and it happens only when there is doubt about whether an adult may really be a parent or legal guardian of the child they're with or when the child might be in danger.

"The standard is to -- in every case -- is to keep that family together as long as operationally possible," Nielsen said. "When we separate, we separate because the law tells us to, and that is in the interest of the child. ... Unfortunately, we have seen instances where traffickers have used children to cross the border and gain access illegally."

But Nielsen did say that in one high-profile case that generated a lawsuit, the process of verifying a familial relationship took longer than it should.

"In the Congolese case that you mentioned, it took too long," Nielsen told Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, the top Democrat on the subcommittee, who brought up the case. Nielsen added that due to ongoing litigation she couldn't say more, "but it took too long, so we are looking at that particular case."

In that case, the American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of a Congolese woman who said she had been separated from her 7-year-old daughter for months. They were eventually reunited, and a DNA test confirmed the woman was the child's mother, according to court filings. The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, continues.

Nielsen also said the department is working with embassies and consulates overseas to help immigrants understand what protections they can apply for and to have the proper paperwork to verify they are families in advance.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 593622

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1228171731
Ramsey51446875
Dakota45976452
Anoka41782439
Washington26948283
Stearns22266222
St. Louis17787304
Scott17296124
Wright16082140
Olmsted1325598
Sherburne1173087
Carver1050745
Clay816392
Rice8063107
Blue Earth751541
Crow Wing666290
Kandiyohi656283
Chisago601351
Otter Tail575478
Benton571697
Goodhue478572
Douglas468575
Mower466232
Winona455050
Itasca439156
McLeod424559
Isanti422464
Morrison419660
Nobles408048
Beltrami397059
Steele388715
Polk384868
Becker380953
Lyon361051
Carlton345654
Freeborn342029
Pine329022
Nicollet326243
Brown305440
Mille Lacs305053
Le Sueur292423
Todd282432
Cass273428
Meeker256640
Waseca236322
Martin230732
Roseau209419
Wabasha20613
Hubbard190041
Dodge18513
Renville180343
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Houston171916
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Fillmore156510
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Pennington153719
Faribault152419
Chippewa152338
Kanabec144726
Sibley143810
Aitkin135036
Watonwan13289
Rock128319
Jackson121812
Pipestone115926
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11056
Murray10639
Swift105618
Stevens91411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86916
Koochiching83615
Wilkin81612
Lake81120
Lac qui Parle75322
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5788
Mahnomen5539
Norman5399
Unassigned49293
Kittson48622
Red Lake3977
Traverse3705
Lake of the Woods3253
Cook1640

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 367236

Reported Deaths: 5940
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57666626
Linn20892335
Scott20060241
Black Hawk15824308
Woodbury15138228
Johnson1449183
Dubuque13380208
Dallas1118398
Pottawattamie11132168
Story1062348
Warren577988
Clinton555893
Cerro Gordo540689
Sioux514474
Webster512293
Marshall483075
Muscatine481399
Des Moines458066
Wapello4303122
Buena Vista424840
Jasper419372
Plymouth401280
Lee376055
Marion362875
Jones299057
Henry291937
Carroll285752
Bremer284860
Crawford266240
Boone265034
Benton256655
Washington254050
Dickinson248543
Mahaska230451
Jackson222142
Clay215725
Kossuth215564
Tama209871
Delaware209741
Winneshiek196835
Page192722
Buchanan191432
Cedar190023
Hardin185643
Fayette185141
Wright184737
Hamilton180049
Harrison179673
Clayton169556
Butler165034
Madison162519
Mills162422
Floyd161142
Cherokee158938
Lyon158241
Poweshiek154934
Allamakee151451
Iowa148824
Hancock148434
Winnebago142531
Cass138654
Calhoun138513
Grundy136333
Emmet134240
Jefferson132435
Shelby131137
Sac130419
Union128333
Louisa128149
Appanoose128049
Mitchell126442
Chickasaw124116
Guthrie121530
Franklin120721
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112823
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100224
Unassigned9710
Keokuk96031
Monroe95329
Ida90435
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis83024
Monona82730
Osceola78716
Greene77710
Lucas77223
Worth7478
Taylor66012
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Ringgold55824
Van Buren55818
Wayne53923
Audubon51010
Adams3384
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