US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen has had her dinner interrupted at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, DC by protesters heckling her over her involvement in the US’ separation of children from their families at the country’s border.
Video posted by the Metro DC chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America showed a number of protesters standing by Nielsen’s table at DC restaurant MXDC Cocina Mexicana chanting “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace,” “Shame,” and “Abolish ICE.“
At one point, a protester can be heard yelling “In a Mexican restaurant of all places – Homeland Security secretary Kristjen Nielsen is in a Mexican restaurant of all places – the fucking gall.” Which, well… fair cop.
DHS Secretary Nielsen just got driven out of a Mexican restaurant here on 14th Street by activists. DSA, I believe. pic.twitter.com/lTKutryXBO— Osita Nwanevu (@OsitaNwanevu) June 20, 2018
In a statement, Margaret McLaughlin from the Metro DC DSA’s steering committee said that Nielsen should feel uncomfortable showing her face in public while overseeing these policies:
We will not stand by and let Secretary Nielsen dine in peace, while she is directing her employees to tear little girls away from their mothers and crying boys away from their fathers at our border.
Secretary Nielsen and everyone else who has carried out these brutal and cold-blooded orders to rip apart families should never be allowed to eat and drink in public again. These barbarous acts must end and those at the helm must be held accountable. While Secretary Nielsen’s dinner may have been ruined, it is nothing compared to the horrors she has inflicted on innocent families.
Another video on social media appears to show at least one customer joining in with the protesters:
The Department of Homeland Security, which Nielsen heads up, is responsible for enforcing Trump’s newly minted “zero tolerance” policy on border crossings. Announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May, it sees anyone caught become subject to criminal prosecution (regardless of whether or not they are claiming asylum), during which they are separated from their children. Previous policy saw the majority of cases subject to civil prosecution, which allowed them to remain with their families until their case was resolved.
Nielsen has recently been running a bizarre obfuscation campaign for the policy. Despite having earlier unequivocally stating her support for the policy quite proudly championed by Trump‘s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, she has since both claimed that the policy doesn’t exist and echoed Trump’s claim that their decision to enforce it is somehow the Democrats‘ fault.
The policy, which has seen 1,995 children separated from their families according to the DHS’ own figures (2,300 according to the AP), has faced massive backlash from both Republicans and Democrats, thanks in part to the fact that not wanting kids to be ripped from the arms of their parents and kept in cages is a relatively non-partisan issue (at least in the US).
BREAKING: Border Patrol @CBP just gave us this video of the detention facility we toured yesterday in McAllen, Texas. We weren't allowed to bring in cameras, or interview anyone. To be clear: this is government handout video. pic.twitter.com/Zjy80qIZFZ— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) June 18, 2018
The DHS spokesperson issued an absolutely perverse statement in response to the protests, claiming that the protesters “share [Nielsen’s] concern“:
.@SecNielsen encourages all – including this group – who want to see an immigration system that works, contributes to our economy, protects our security, & reflects our values reach out to Members & seek their support to close immigration loopholes that made our system a mess.— Tyler Q. Houlton (@SpoxDHS) June 20, 2018
Remember when words meant something? What a time.