Kamala Harris, other Democratic lawmakers call on Kirstjen Nielsen to resign

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Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday tried defending the administration's policy of breaking up immigrant families at the border.

The US will not become a "camp" for migrants, President Donald Trump on Monday said as he defended his controversial immigration policy of separating children from their parents who illegally enter the US that has triggered widespread outrage.

"I have also made clear you do not need to break the law of this country by entering illegally to claim asylum", she added.

Hillary Clinton joined two former first ladies in condemning the White House's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that is separating children from their parents.

Trump administration officials have argued repeatedly in recent weeks that Democrats are responsible for the separation policy in an apparent reference to Congress' inability to pass an immigration bill that would provide funding for Trump's proposed border wall.

USA first lady Michelle Obama, right, and former US first lady Laura Bush laugh as they participate in an African First Ladies Summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2, 2013. Melania Trump, Grisham told CNN on Sunday, "believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart". And yet, she kicked off the presser citing stats: "Since this time a year ago, there has been a 325% increase in unaccompanied alien children and a 435% increase in family units entering the country illegally".

The law dictates that children be removed from adults accused of committing crimes, she said, calling "offensive" reporters' suggestions the children were being used as a deterrent and a pawn.

The backlash against the Trump administration's policy has been bipartisan.

"If we build a wall, if we pass a legislation, if we close a loophole, we won't face these awful choices", he said, adding that Trump will not allow this lawlessness to continue.

Melania Trump is basically an anti-Trumper
Current First Lady Melania Trump has also weighed in on the issue but stopped short of calling for the policy to be scrapped.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was asked about the Homeland Security secretary during a press conference in San Diego Monday, following a visit to immigrant detention facilities.

But Democrats and some Republicans have criticized the administration for dividing almost 2,000 children from their parents between mid-April and the end of May.

"When a child is apprehended with their parents, DHS is required, due to various court rulings, to release the child within 20 days", she said.

They are transferred to government shelters or foster care while their situation is sorted out, but some shelters and foster homes say they are running out of space.

"We are enforcing the laws passed by Congress, and we are doing all that we can in the executive branch to protect our communities".

The administration wants to send a message, said a Republican critic of the policy, "that if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you".

Lawmakers have traveled to South Texas where hundreds of children separated from their parents are being held to speak out against the zero-tolerance policy.

The White House's hard-line posture comes as a growing number of Republicans are joining Democrats to urge the administration to change its policy on family separations. "They are very well taken care of", she said.