US: DHS denies separating families seeking asylum

Head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, has denied reports that federal authorities have been separating immigrant children from their parents seeking asylum when apprehended at the border.

The Trump administration has been trying to distance itself from its controversial policy of separating children from adults at the US border.

President Donald Trump has already falsely blamed the Democrats for the tactic, and now the Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denies the policy exists.

That is despite the White House and the Attorney General Jeff Sessions defending the move.

In a rare public comment on a policy issue, the First Lady Melania Trump issued a statement but did not refer specifically to the administration’s “no tolerance” policy.

“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” said her communications director Stephanie Grisham. “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”

Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro reports from Washington, DC.