DHS: Most Illegals at Border Don't Meet Criteria to Enter US

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen confers with an aide while testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters on Tuesday that she did not threaten to resign after President Donald Trump reportedly scolded her in front of stafers last week about an increase in illegal immigration.

"We are begging you, if in fact this is going to be the outcome, where we're separating children, in some cases infants, from their parents, we need to know where these kids are", said North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.

But Nielsen also agreed with senators that more must be done to protect the children who either come to the USA without their parents or are separated from them.

"My decision has been that anyone who breaks the law will be prosecuted", she said.

Nielsen told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that her agency and HHS have procedures aimed at making sure the people caring for the children are not criminals.

"If you are a parent or you are a single person or you happen to have a family, if you cross between the ports of entry, we will refer you for prosecution", Nielsen said.

She particularly pointed to asylum fraud, which has been thrust back into the spotlight in recent weeks with dozens of migrants arriving at the U.S. -Mexico border seeking asylum and entry into the country.

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"Once you start taking these children, please, I don't think any record should reflect that somehow, you are confident or anybody is confident that they're being placed in a safe and secure environment", said Sen.

Last month, HHS officials acknowledged that federal officials lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children in 2017 after they were placed with adult sponsors in communities across the nation. "We owe it to these children to protect them".

During a surge in children from Central America in 2014, Health and Human Services temporarily used military bases in California, Oklahoma and Texas to house children.

Nielsen testified days after The New York Times reported that Trump blasted her at a cabinet meeting last week for failing to stop illegal border crossings.

Nielsen denied that she had been asked to separate illegal alien parents from their children as a method of deterrence.

"It's really frustrating, I've got to be honest".

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