Acting DHS secretary says family separation failed because it killed public trust

Evie Fordham, DCNF

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary said the Trump administration’s family separation policy was a failure because it killed public trust during a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday.

“The enforcement of the law against parents who violated our border laws and brought children with them was effective,” Kevin McAleenan told “60 Minutes.” “It reduced the flow, but it didn’t work in the sense that we lost the public trust in the implementation of that initiative.”

DHS started building tent cities along the Texas border to house families, according to the “60 Minutes” report.

“We just had a bipartisan report from the Homeland Security Advisory Council that looked at the situation we’re facing on the border and said, ‘You need additional facilities,’” McAleenan said. “You need to be able to take families and children out of a Border Patrol station, which is a police station, it’s built for single adults who have violated laws. And you need them in a better setting.”

McAleenan rejected the idea that the Trump administration would reintroduce family separation of illegal migrants Tuesday.

“I think the president has been clear that family separation is not on the table and again this was a zero tolerance prosecution initiative that was targeted at adults violating the law,” McAleenan said Tuesday to NBC anchor Lester Holt. “They were always intended to be reunited.”

Former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned earlier in April, so then-Customs and Border Protection commissioner McAleenan took over the department. He had previously served as deputy commissioner of CBP under former President Barack Obama.

McAleenan’s “60 Minutes” interview comes days after the Pentagon announced it plans on sending around 300 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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