Homeland Security chief slams 'irresponsible' reports on separation of migrant families

The nation's homeland security chief insisted Sunday that immigrant children are not being separated from their parents at the border - despite the Trump administration defending its policy and eyewitness accounts of government-snatched boys and girls being held in cages at a private detention center in Texas.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen took the press's pointed questions, and she did not hide her emotions when answering them.

Nielsen spoke Monday at the National Sheriff's Association conference in New Orleans.

Nielsen's second tweet - specifically saying "We do not have a policy of separating families at the border".

"No more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards", she said. But Monday's statement marks the first time the Democratic senator has called for the DHS secretary's resignation, her office confirmed to CNN.

"We have a statutory responsibility that we take seriously to protect alien children", she said.

Amid the public outcry, the Trump administration has attempted to blame Democrats for what's occurring, despite no substantial evidence to support this claim, and even went as far to deny the policy of separating migrant children from their parents exists.

DHS "may separate a parent or legal guardian from his or her child for several reasons, including situations where DHS can not ascertain the parental relationship, when DHS determines that a child may be at risk with the presumed parent or legal guardian, or if a parent or legal guardian is referred for criminal prosecution, including for illegal entry", the website notes.

"Why wouldn't you bring children with you if you knew you would be released and not prosecuted?"

Almost 2,000 minors were separated from their parents or adult guardians who illegally crossed into the United States over a recent 6-week period, officials said Friday, June 15, as debate raged over how to end the deeply controversial practice.

After that, Nielsen once again walked through the administration's wishlist for changing immigration laws - including targeting sanctuary city policies, changing the threshold for qualifying for asylum to be much higher, and reversing many protections for children allowing them to be detained for longer or deported immediately.

Nielsen noted how the administration saw a 315 percent increase in immigrants "fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into this country" from October 2017 to this past February.

Is this the best way to handle families entering the US illegally, seeking asylum?

President Trump on Twitter Monday echoed that point.

Previously, border authorities often issued notices to appear in court to families apprehended crossing the border who claimed asylum, then released them. "It's a simple choice", she said.

Ed Markey tweeted late Sunday night in a response to Nielsen, adding that "you are directly responsible for unimaginable amounts of misery".