Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday pushed back against a reporter who said that illegal immigrants are being turned away at ports of entry for trying to seek asylum, calling the comment "incorrect."
Nielsen took questions from multiple reporters during the White House press briefing about accounts of family separation at the U.S. southern border, including someone shouting that people were being turned away at ports of entry.
"That actually is incorrect," Nielsen fired back. "We have limited resources. We have multiple missions at CBP and what we do is based on the very high standards we have, of we don't have enough bed space, if we do not have enough medical personnel on staff, if we do not have enough caretakers on staff, then we will tell people to come to the border. They need to come back."
Nielsen went on to say that the Trump administration is not turning people away, but rather telling them to come back when they can take care of them in the right way.
"We are not turning them away. We are saying, ‘We want to take care of you in the right way. Right now we don't have the resources at this particular moment in time. Come back,'" Nielsen said.
Earlier Monday, Nielsen addressed the National Sheriffs' Association annual conference in New Orleans, where she stressed the importance of asylum seekers using official ports of entry at the U.S. southern border.
"You do not need to break the law of this country by entering illegally to claim asylum," she said. "If you are seeking asylum, go to a port of entry."
She also stressed the importance of the Trump administration prosecuting people who make false claims about being families or of needing asylum.
"We do not have the luxury of pretending that all individuals coming to this country as a family unit are, in fact, a family. We have to do our job; we will not apologize for doing our job," she said. "If you make a false immigration claim, we will prosecute you. If you smuggle illegal aliens across an extraordinarily dangerous journey, we will prosecute you."