The skirmish is an escalation of the dispute embroiling the Trump administration and members of Congress, including some Republicans, over its policy causing the separation of thousands of migrant families crossing the border in recent months.
On Sunday, Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted, "We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. I think what you saw in Tornillo was the manifestation of a bad policy of separating kids from their families", said Hurd, whose district includes a large swath along the U.S. -Mexico border.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has been under pressure from President Trump, who has singled her out for blame as arrests along the Mexico border have climbed. That is correct. But under US protocol, if parents are jailed, their children are separated from them because the children aren't charged with a crime.
Over the weekend, Lee and Jeffries were among a group of Democratic legislators who marched to immigrant processing and detention facilities across the country in protest of the new policy. The government says it separated almost 2,000 children from adults at the US southern border over the course of six recent weeks.
"President Trump has said this lawlessness can not continue", he said.
"I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our worldwide boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel", she said.
In April, Sessions announced that anyone found trying to cross the border illegally would be met with "the full prosecutorial powers of the Department of Justice", meaning that parents crossing with children would be detained and their children placed in US custody. Former First Lady Laura Bush, in a Washington Post op-ed, wrote that "this zero-tolerance policy is cruel".
Earlier Monday he tweeted: "It is the Democrats fault for being weak and ineffective with Boarder Security and Crime".
Nielsen said her department would continue enforcing the law, unlike past administrations.
"Instead, publicly released data showed a roughly 5% uptick in the number of people caught crossing the border illegally when compared to figures from April, including a big jump in unaccompanied children", CNN explained.
After that, Nielsen once again walked through the administration's wishlist for changing immigration laws - including targeting sanctuary city policies, changing the threshold for qualifying for asylum to be much higher, and reversing many protections for children allowing them to be detained for longer or deported immediately. "If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law".
On Sunday, Nielsen tweeted that the USA does not have a family separation policy, only to walk it back Monday by claiming the U.S.
Republicans in Congress and the administration have pointed to a 1997 court settlement regarding the treatment of immigrant children in federal custody for legal justification of the Attorney-General's new policy.