Disgraced former Department of Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen expressed not a single shred of remorse for her central role in the state-sanctioned kidnapping of thousands of children at the southern border, saying during a widely condemned, lie-riddled appearance at Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday that “I don’t regret enforcing the law.”
Nielsen in fact trotted out a greatest hits of the administration’s trademark lies about its family separation policy rather than addressing the ongoing trauma she helped inflict on kids, again falsely claiming the previous administration engaged in this same sort of child abuse, falsely claiming that only “a few” kids under age five were stolen, and falsely suggesting, in just one more lie highlight, that asylum-seekers coming through an official U.S. port of entry weren’t affected by the policy.
The facts: this was a policy signed off by Nielsen that allowed “the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors”; over 100 children under age five—including nine infants—were stolen from their families; and asylum-seekers coming through a U.S. port of entry were also torn apart. In fact, the landmark lawsuit that later forced the reunification of separated families, Ms. L v. ICE, concerned a Congolese family separated after crossing through one before the policy Nielsen claimed didn’t exist was officially implemented.
In one more jab to the suffering of these families, Nielsen commented that “It’s heartbreaking that any family felt at any time that they had to cross the border illegally because it is a terrible, dangerous journey.” Blaming families is nothing new for her, however: when seven-year-old Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin died in agony while in Customs and Border Protection custody nearly a year ago last December, Nielsen went onto state television to blame the child’s dad, saying “This is just a very sad example of the dangers of this journey.”
Cries from advocates for Fortune organizers were loud, yet they refused to drop Nielsen from the event even as the administration admitted last week it stole an additional 1,250 children from their families before the policy was officially implemented, and because the American Civil Liberties Union believes that number could actually be closer to 2,000, the total number of kids stolen at the southern border by the administration could eventually total 5,000.
That’s 5,000 stolen children, yet Fortune decided to give a platform to this criminal and sad excuse for a human being, and at an event celebrating powerful women, no less. There should be no rehabilitation for those who carried out human rights abuses and then lied to our faces about it, and anyone or any entity participating in these makeovers, like Fortune, should be ashamed, called out, and reminded of it constantly. The only invitation that should ever be extended to Nielsen and her like is to The Hague.