Homeland Security secretary insists border crisis is 'real'

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019, before the House Homeland Security Committee. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen insisted Wednesday the crisis at the southern border is not manufactured, as she faced questions from Democrats for the first time since they took control of the House.

"We face a crisis - a real, serious and sustained crisis at our borders," she said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing. "Make no mistake: This chain of human misery is getting worse."

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said he wanted to use the hearing in part to give Nielsen the opportunity to start a "serious discussion," rather than echoing President Donald Trump's claims of a security crisis at the border, and to say what she knew about the family separations last year. He said real oversight over the border was long overdue.

"No amount of verbal gymnastics will change that she knew the Trump administration was implementing a policy to separate families at the border," Thompson said.