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Congressional Democrats are calling for Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign

“We have zero tolerance ... for your policy.”

DHS Secretary Nielsen Visits National Hurricane Center Ahead Of Storm Season
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A group of Democrats is pushing for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to step down, with such calls growing after two heated press appearances on Monday when she declined to apologize for the administration’s family separation practices and falsely blamed Congress for originating the policy.

According to the HuffPost and NBC News, more than 10 Democrats have said that Nielsen should resign, including Sens. Kamala Harris (CA), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Mazie Hirono (HI), Jeff Merkley (OR), and Tina Smith (MN).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Reps. Barbara Lee (CA), Ted Lieu (CA), Kathleen Rice (NY), and Donald Payne (NJ) have also spoken out. Most of the lawmakers who are ramping up the pressure on Nielsen come from historically blue states and have been vocal critics of Trump’s immigration policies.

Harris — who’s also been a major proponent of preserving DACA protections for young undocumented immigrants — was among the earliest to take a stand on Monday. “The government should be in the business of keeping families together, not tearing them apart. And the government should have a commitment to transparency and accountability,” she said in a statement. “Under Secretary Nielsen’s tenure, the Department of Homeland Security has a track record of neither.”

Pelosi made a similar push after paying a visit to a San Diego site where children who’ve been taken from their parents are currently being held. “We have zero tolerance for your neglect and for your policy of selecting — of separating children from their parents,” Pelosi said.

This rising backlash toward Nielsen comes as outrage continues to build over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, under which all adults that enter the US illegally are being prosecuted as criminals, forcing the separation of parents, who are arrested, and their children, who are placed into federal custody.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents in the span of six weeks.

Nielsen did little to quell critics at two contentious press appearances on Monday, during which she said the administration would “not apologize” for separating families and “doing our job.”

As Vox’s Jen Kirby reports, Nielsen has shifted the blame for family separations to Congress, a claim touted by Trump that’s patently untrue.

“Congress and the courts created this problem, and Congress alone can fix it,” Nielsen said at a White House press conference. “Until then, we will enforce every law we have on the books to defend the sovereignty and security of the United States. Those who criticize the enforcement of our laws have offered only one countermeasure: open borders.”

Nielsen, who is responsible for enforcing the family separation policy, has also become its face in recent days — although the New York Times reported that she initially disagreed with Trump about its implementation.

The press conference marked the latest instance when comments she’s made have sparked blowback. Over the weekend, she raised many lawmakers’ hackles after posting a series of tweets arguing that family separation was not, in fact, a Trump administration policy.

Democrats, apparently, have had enough.

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