(CNSNews.com) - Separating illegal immigrant families at the border is not unique to the Trump administration, according to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
She said that contrary to media reports, previous administrations also separated illegal immigrant families at the border, not just the Trump administration.
During Monday’s White House press briefing, Nielsen was peppered with questions regarding the administration’s policy of handling illegal immigrant families at the border.
NBC News White House Correspondent Kristen Welker claimed separation of families at the border didn’t occur until Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero-tolerance policy.
“This never happened before he announced the zero-tolerance policy,” Welker said.
However, Nielsen said the administrations of Barack Obama administration and George W. Bush both separated families at the border.
NIELSEN: That's actually not true. So the last administration --
WELKER: Well, we've never seen this under previous administrations.
NIELSEN: -- the Obama administration, the Bush administration all separated families at the --
WELKER:: We didn't see kids separated from their parents.
NIELSEN: They absolutely did. They did -- their rate was less than ours, but they absolutely did do this. This is not new.
WELKER: There were unaccompanied minors, there's no doubt about that, But this --
NIELSEN: They separated families.
WELKER: -- separating kids at this rate from their parents is something new and specific to this administration once the Attorney General announced the zero-tolerance policy. So why doesn't the President pick up the phone and change the policy? He said he hates it.
NIELSEN: I think what the president is trying to do is find a long-term fix. …. Congress could fix this tomorrow.”