"We have to do our job we will not apologize for doing our job; we have sworn to do this job".
Ms. Harris, believed to be eyeing a presidential run in 2020, is no stranger to clashes with Ms. Nielsen, but he demand for the secretary's resignation is the most concrete shot yet at an administration trying to fight a backlash over the separations.
Even from some of Trump's strongest supporters have panned the policy.
"We do not want to separate children from their parents", Sessions said, but he stressed that the administration has a policy of prosecuting adults who enter the country illegally. Nielsen says agents are not acting cruelly, but are enforcing the laws passed by Congress.
When asked whether the Trump administration had taken a more hardline stance on immigration in order to send a message - as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has previously said - Nielsen responded that she "find [s] that offensive". "To see the implosion, instead of having sympathy for the situation, they are doubling down and seem to think if they can just explain to people what's going on, we might have a more sympathetic view of their side", Ainsley said during an interview with MSNBC's Katy Tur.
Nielsen continued: "For those seeking asylum at ports of entry, we have continued the policy from previous Administrations and will only separate if the child is in danger, there is no custodial relationship between "family" members, or if the adult has broken a law".
"DHS takes very seriously its duty to protect minors in our temporary custody from gangs, traffickers, criminals and abuse", she said.
Over all, more than 10,000 children are now in shelters run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
We provide food, medical, education, and all needs that the child requests.... "If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law".
Earlier Monday, President Trump blamed Democrats for the country's immigration problems and said that "the USA will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility". "I'm not familiar with those particular images", she added.
Nielsen echoed these points during her prepared remarks.
With the crackdown in full swing, the detained parents are "in jail settings", the official said, awaiting adjudication and possible prosecution for crossing the border.
The Trump administration wants Congress to limit the period in which unaccompanied children may apply for asylum to one year after their arrival in the United States, and it wants to end "abuse" of a visa known as the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) visa, which allows unaccompanied children to obtain green cards if abuse, abandonment, or neglect prevents them from reunifying with one or both of their parents. She made her choice.
"As (GOP Rep. Steve Scalise) said, it is an issue that every one of the last four administration has faced".