Slotkin questions Trump DHS secretary on family separation policy

    Elissa Slotkin's ceremonial swearing in
    Elissa Slotkin's ceremonial swearing in, Jan. 13, 2019, Lansing | Andrew Roth

    Freshman U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) woke up “what had been relatively sleepy interrogation” last week of U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to the Daily Beast.

    Slotkin has an extensive background in national security, having served as acting assistant secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    Nielsen testified before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. Slotkin asked her if she knew about the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) policy of family separation, which President Donald Trump reversed in June 2018 under considerable pressure.

    Here’s the exchange, as reported by the Daily Beast:

    “Did you initiate the separation of families for the express purpose of deterring families from coming to the United States?” asked Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI).

    “No, I did not,” said Nielsen, before adding that “the whole purpose of that was to increase consequences for those who choose to break the law… if there is no consequences, we do not see the instances of the crime decreasing. So what we did was we increased the number of prosecutions.”

    The exchanges heated up what had been relatively sleepy interrogation of the secretary by the committee up to that point, wherein Nielsen continued to deny that the Trump administration’s family separation policy existed—a position that Nielsen has taken since that policy first came to light in late spring of last year.

    The Advance broke the story last month that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer nixed a $35 million private immigrant detention center in Ionia. Her decision came, in part, out of concern that the facility would house separated families.

    Activist Maru Mora Villalpando leads a protest and march outside a Federal Detention Center on June 9, 2018 in SeaTac, Washington. | Karen Ducey, Getty Images

    After that exchange with Slotkin, the congressional hearing got heated, the Daily Beast reported:

    Nielsen, who was in her third hour of aggressive questioning on border security matters by Democrats on the House Committee on Homeland Security, repeatedly refused to answer Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) on whether U.S. Customs and Border Protection was “still putting children in cages” at detention facilities on the U.S. southern border. Nielsen instead described the cages as “areas of the border facility that are carved out for the safety and protection” of children in USCBP detention.

    “Sir, they’re not cages. We don’t use cages for children,” Nielsen said. “To my knowledge, CBP never put a child in cages.”

    “I just want you to admit that the cages exist!” Thompson said incredulously. “I saw them and you did too—all you have to do is admit it. Don’t mislead the committee. Do not mislead the committee.”

    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


    1. Only in this administration and this Senate could someone as poorly qualified as Ms. Nielsen be appointed and confirmed. Beyond her willing violation of international law, she is every bit the prevaricator and liar as every other Trump appointee.


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