Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was ambushed by group of protesters as she dined at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C.
“How do you sleep at night?” “Aren’t you a mother, too?” “Do you hear the babies crying?”
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was met by a barrage of questions and outrage on Tuesday night when a group of protesters ambushed her as she dined at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., according to multiple outlets.
Nielsen has become the face of the Trump administration’s family-separation policy, which has seen children of migrant parents forcibly removed from their moms and dads who were caught crossing into America from Mexico at the border and placed in cages at processing detention centers run by the Department of Homeland Security.
The 46-year-old was dining with a colleague at MXDC Cocina Mexicana, a popular eatery near the White House, when protesters from the Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America came into the establishment and confronted her, CNN reported.
Video of the incident was posted online by the Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America, with protesters chanting “shame” and “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace.”
“How can you enjoy a Mexican dinner as you’re deporting and imprisoning tens of thousands of people who come here seeking asylum in the United States?” one asked. “We call on you to end family separation and abolish ICE.”
“No human being is illegal. No child is illegal,” another said. “How much do you make Kirstjen? How much do you make locking up children?”
Added Margaret McLaughlin, a member of the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America steering committee, in a statement to the New York Times: “We will not stand by and let Sec. Nielsen dine in peace, while she is directing her employees to tear little girls away from their mothers and crying boys away from their fathers at our border.”
After about 10 minutes, Nielsen and her colleague left the restaurant and got into an SUV, CNN reported.
Later, DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton wrote about the incident on Twitter, saying that that Nielsen was having a work dinner when approached by “a small group of protesters who share her concern with our current immigration laws that have created a crisis on our southern border.”
“[Sec. Nielsen] encourages all — including this group — who want to see an immigration system that works, contributes to our economy, protects our security, and reflects our values reach out to members and seek their support to close immigration loopholes that made our system a mess,” Houlton tweeted.
On Tuesday, President Trump applauded Nielsen’s work in a press conference the day before, in which she defended the “zero-tolerance” policy of separating parents from children at the border.
“Homeland Security @SecNielsen did a fabulous job yesterday at the press conference explaining security at the border and for our country, while at the same time recommending changes to obsolete and nasty laws, which force family separation,” he tweeted. “We want ‘heart’ and security in America!“
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Trump has been vocal about the immigration policy in the past, trying to place blame on Democrats for his “zero-tolerance” policy.
“I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law — that’s their law,” Trump told reporters on Friday.
“The Fake News is not mentioning the safety and security of our country when talking about illegal immigration,” he added on Wednesday on Twitter. “Our immigration laws are the weakest and worst anywhere in the world, and the [Democrats] will do anything not to change them and to obstruct-want open borders which means crime!”
However, as The New York Times notes, there’s actually no law that says children must be taken away from their parents at the border. In fact, it was the Trump administration’s decision to prosecute asylum seekers who enter the U.S. at the border that has led to parents being sent into criminal custody and separated from their children.
And White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders reiterated on Monday that Trump will not sign any legislative fix that does not include funding for the border wall he has promised his supporters.