During a House hearing Thursday, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she didn’t know—or more likely, doesn’t care—how many people have died while under Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody. No big deal at all, considering she’s only the head of the department. Congress member Pramila Jayapal of Washington state, however, was prepared. “There have been at least 12 deaths under your watch,” she said, “including a suicide at the Northwest Detention Center, which is just south of my district, and that death is being currently investigated.”
Nielsen’s appearance at the hearing comes as she refuses to take responsibility for the death of 7-year-old Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin under DHS watch. Contradicting claims from officials, family attorneys say Jakelin was given no water during the entirety of the eight hours she was jailed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Nielsen also lied about the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy, claiming that “we do not have a policy of separating families at the border.” Tell that to the children traumatized by your policy, secretary. But there is a reckoning coming.
”Although your department has evaded meaningful oversight until now, you can be sure that beginning in January, this committee intends to do its job,” Congress member Jerry Nadler, incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said at the hearing. “The time for zero accountability is over."
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