Democratic senator demands PERJURY probe by FBI into Trump’s Homeland Security chief for denying there was a policy to separate immigrant families
- Senator Jeff Merkley, from Oregon, has written to the FBI director Christopher Wray demanding a perjury probe into Kirstjen Nielsen
- He accuses her of lying to Congress – which is perjury – by denying that there was ever a policy to separate migrant families at the border
- She told senators in December that zero tolerance policy of arresting all illegal border crossers were not intended to separate families
- But Merkley revealed memo showed Homeland Security and Department of Justice officials discussing family separation as a deterrent for migrants
A Democratic U.S. senator on Friday asked the FBI to probe whether Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen committed perjury when she testified to Congress that the administration never had a policy to separate immigrant families.
Senator Jeff Merkley has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s moves last year to target immigrant families crossing into the United States for enforcement actions.
The administration implemented a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to criminally prosecute and jail all illegal border crossers, including those traveling with their children, leading to a wave of family separations last year.
The policy and disturbing images of young of children being held in cages sparked a public backlash, causing the administration to subsequently change course on family separation. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end the practice on June 20, 2018.
Perjury? Kirstjen Nielsen’s denial to Congress that there was a policy to separate immigrant children from their parents who crossed the border illegally should be probed by the FBI as a lie, Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democratic senator, demands
Ordeal: This picture of children at Rio Grande Valley Centralized Processing Center in Rio Grande City, Texas, was one of the images which led to calls for the zero tolerance policy to be ended
Outcry: The policy of separating all children from the adults they crossed the border with illegally led to outrage at children being held in cages, leading to the Trump administration to end the policy. But the watchdog says separations continued afterwards
In his letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Merkley noted emerging evidence that the Department of Homeland Security, as far back as December, 2017, had been developing a new policy to separate families.
Merkley released a memo on ‘Policy Options to Respond to Border Surge of Illegal Immigration,’ which he said was created by senior Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice officials discussing family separation as a deterrent for migrants.
Yet, the senator from Oregon noted, during testimony to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Dec. 20, 2018, Nielsen said, ‘I’m not a liar, we never had a policy for family separation.’
The FBI declined to comment and DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Thursday it had identified ‘thousands’ more separated children in addition to the 2,737 included as part of lawsuit challenging family separations brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last year.
The auditor said in a report that prior to the officially announced ‘zero tolerance’ policy, the government began ramping up separations in 2017 for other reasons related to a child’s safety and well-being, including separating parents with criminal records or lack of proper documents.
Trump campaigned for president on a promise to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs over the southwestern U.S. border with Mexico.
His demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall on the border with Mexico has led to the longest-ever partial government shutdown, now in its 28th day.