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Rep. Ruben Gallego: Kirstjen Nielsen ‘Was Clearly Lying to Us’ About Reuniting Migrant Kids in Time

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with Democratic lawmakers Thursday ahead of the deadline to reunite more than 2,0000 migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, but for one congressman, it was an exercise in futility.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ 7th District) called Nielsen out for repeatedly claiming the government would reunite the children in time, which appeared infeasible at the time of the meeting.

“It did not go well,” Gallego told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during an interview on The Situation Room Thursday. “We were hoping it would go better. We were respectful of her time. But we asked some pointed questions. One of the first questions we asked is when are these children going to be reunified with their parents? And she said they were on track to meet the deadline.”

Blitzer noted the deadline had passed and Gallego expressed frustrations with Nielsen’s handling of the meeting and her apparent lack of transparency on the issue.

“I pointed out that that is impossible and that she was clearly lying to us and she was insistent they’re going to make the deadline,” he said. “At a minimum we expected her to show some level of leadership. She should have just been honest with us and said we’re not going to make the deadline but here’s the plan on how to unify these families. This administration again has bungled even this effort which was their own effort to basically deter migration to this country. And they have no idea how to put these families together. They don’t want to admit that they made a mistake.”

However, numbers released by the federal government that evening state 1,442 of the original 2,551 children have been reunified with their families, deeming others “ineligible” or currently unable to be reunited because their parents have been deported, making matters even messier as it remains uncertain how those cases will be handled.

To Gallego, the administration’s approach to the crisis has been at odds with American values, leaving unanswered the question of where these children will go and who will care for them.

“We’ve made hundreds of orphans for a country that values family and we say we’re a family values country,” he said. “This administration has separated families unnecessarily so. And there is no plan. We asked about the plan. How’s this going to end? And we did not hear something positive from Secretary Nielsen.”

Watch the clip above via CNN.

[Image via screengrab]

Follow Amy Russo on Twitter: @amymrusso

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