DHS secretary heckled at Mexican restaurant over child separations

Demonstrators interrupted Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen's dinner at an upscale Mexican restaurant in Washington Tuesday night to express their outrage over the separation of children from their migrant parents at the U.S. southern border.

"We call on you to end family separations," a member of the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America shouted as protesters filed in to MXDC, chanting, "Shame, shame, shame" and other slogans."Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is in a Mexican restaurant of all places," one of the demonstrators said, according to video of the incident. "The ... gall. Shame on you."

At a White House briefing Monday, Nielsen defended the Trump administration's newly enforced "zero tolerance" policy for people trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico without visas.

Nielsen falsely claimed that federal law requires family separation when parents, even those legally seeking asylum, are held for prosecution. And she said family separation is not a new policy.So far this spring more than 2,300 child migrants have been separated from parents — many fleeing violence in Central America — and housed, at least temporarily, in federal and nonprofit-run childcare facilities in border states.At least 13 Democratic lawmakers, citing the falsehoods and the execution of the "zero tolerance" policy that has torn toddlers and teenagers away from mothers and fathers, have called on Nielsen to resign.

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Inside a migrant shelter on the US-Mexico border
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Inside a migrant shelter on the US-Mexico border
Migrant Jeber Hernandez, 14, from El Salvador, who hopes to make it to Los Angeles, stands in the chapel at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Migrants eat dinner at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Gilda Loureiro, who runs the Juan Bosco migrant shelter, cooks meals for migrants, in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Migrants eat dinner at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
The bag of a seven-year-old Honduran migrant, whose family members fear for their lives, is seen at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter where they are staying before attempting to cross the border to the U.S., in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Haitian migrant Volter Petiblen, 24, (R) reads his phone at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Mexican migrant Sergio Medrano, 30, sits in the chapel at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter after being deported from the U.S., in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Mexican migrant Jose Angel Garcia, 42, holds a crucifix he made as he waits at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter after being deported from the U.S. following two years in an immigration detention center, in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Gilda Loureiro, who runs the Juan Bosco migrant shelter, stands in one of the shelter's dormitories, in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A migrant talks to his family at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017 REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Migrant Jever Danilo, 14, from El Salvador, who hopes to make it to Los Angeles, stands in the chapel at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Migrants arrive at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter after being deported from the U.S., in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Rosary beads left by migrants are seen in the chapel at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017 REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Haitian migrant Volter Petiblen, 24, looks out at Nogalas from the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Mexican migrant Jose Angel Garcia, 42, shows a photo of his mother as he waits at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter after being deported from the U.S. following two years in an immigration detention center, in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017 REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Mexican migrant Jaime Manuel Perez Mancinas, 31, holds the hand of a three-year-old Honduran refugee as he waits at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter after being deported from the U.S. following two years in an immigration detention center, in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Religious keepsakes left by migrants are seen in the chapel at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Haitian migrant Volter Petiblen, 24, (R) waits for dinner at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
The Juan Bosco migrant shelter is seen in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Religious keepsakes left by migrants are seen in the chapel at the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017 REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Haitian migrant Volter Petiblen, 24, reads his phone at a the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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A number of Republicans have also called on President Donald Trump to reverse the policy.

"So we say you can't enjoy dinner until you reunite all those families," one demonstrator at the Washington Mexican restaurant told Nielsen as two men in suits stood between the secretary's table and a half-dozen or so protesters.

"End Texas concentration camps," members of the group shouted at her.In a statement the Democratic Socialists said that police responded and tried to detain demonstrators "to no avail".

Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement that the demonstrators "share [Nielsen's] concern with our current immigration laws that have created a crisis on our southern border".

He said the secretary encourages the protesters to "reach out to members of congress and seek their support to close the terrible immigration loopholes that have made our system a mess."

The secretary exited the restaurant shortly after the demonstrators were shooed out by police, according to the Democratic Socialists.

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