In Texas, several Democratic members of Congress said at a news conference that they had toured one USA detention center and encountered children under the age of one who they were told had been in government custody for more than a month.
"We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does for doing the job that the American people expect us to do", she said, speaking in front of a friendly audience of the National Sheriffs' Association about the administration's policies resulting in family separations. But if it plays out like the fight over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, it will likely end with Trump's stricter side winning out.
Trump and administration officials have said the policy, which was not practiced by the two previous presidents, is needed to secure the border and deter illegal immigration.
Even so, the questions kept coming, and Nielsen was asked at one point, "how is this not specifically child abuse for these innocent children who are, indeed, being separated from their parents?"
After that, Nielsen once again walked through the administration's wishlist for changing immigration laws - including targeting sanctuary city policies, changing the threshold for qualifying for asylum to be much higher, and reversing many protections for children allowing them to be detained for longer or deported immediately.
On Friday, an official with the Department of Homeland Security told reporters that almost 2,000 children had been separated from 1,940 adults from April 19 through May 31. "I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children".
Some of Trump's advisors have echoed that language. "As a mother, as a Catholic, as somebody who has got a conscience ..."
"Excuse me it's a POLICY and you are showing your cowardice". In an impromptu interview with Fox News on Friday, he temporarily torpedoed a Republican immigration compromise when he casually dismissed it as too moderate.
TRUMP: "Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!"
While jumping the border has been a crime for decades, past administrations had generally ignored that part of the law, instead treating illegal immigration as a civil matter and trying to deport people. "These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in US history".
"If we build a wall, if we pass a legislation, if we close a loophole, we won't face these bad choices", he said, adding that Trump will not allow this lawlessness to continue. "We need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart".
Trump blamed opposition Democratic lawmakers for the impasse over US immigration policies, even though Trump's Republican party controls both chambers in Congress, and the family border policies were set by his administration. After the Obama administration expanded family detention centers, federal courts ruled that families could be held for only 20 days, in most cases.
There's a big argument going on in America about the way some migrant children are being split up from their families.