Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen has asked Congress to give her the ability to deport unaccompanied illegal immigrant children more easily.
What is Nielsen requesting?
In a letter dated Thursday, Nielsen asked members of both houses of Congress for "immediate Congressional assistance to stabilize the situation" at the border. Nielsen wrote that last year DHS had "apprehended or encountered more than 75,000 [migrants], the highest in over a decade. And this month we are on track to interdict nearly 100,000 migrants."
She called this "nearly unprecedented in the modern era."
Nielsen said that Customs and Border Protection is currently holding "1,200 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in custody, hundreds of which have been with CBP for days, an unacceptable length of stay in facilities not designed to hold children for extended periods."
She called for authority from Congress "to return UACs to their families and home countries in a safe and orderly manner if they have no legal right to stay."
She said the current system sends unaccompanied children from "non-contiguous" countries to sponsors or family in the United States instead of returning them home. Nielsen argued that this "serves as a dangerous 'pull' factor."
She also requested additional detention centers to house illegal immigrants and said she would be submitting "measures to allow DHS to keep alien families in custody together through the immigration process and to allow asylum-seekers to apply for U.S. protection from Central America, rather than take the dangerous journey north." She said that these changes would "help address the root causes of the emergency."
Nielsen tweeted Thursday that DHS facilities were "stretched too thin" and that her "greatest concern is for the children who are put at risk by this emergency and who are arriving sicker than ever before after traveling on the dangerous trek."
My greatest concern is for the children, who are put at high risk by this emergency and who are arriving sicker tha… https://t.co/wWfWvQ1VSL— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen)1553825833.0