NOGALES, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kirsten Nielsen made her first trip to the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol to meet with ranchers, produce growers and County Sheriffs.
None of the meetings were open to the press, but following a day on the border, she held a brief press conference to answer a few questions.
She chastised the media for misleading claims the department lost 1,500 children who came to the U.S. as unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America.
"The children are not lost," she said. "They don't want to be found."
She says the children are generally turned over to family who are often "illegal aliens" she called them.
"They're not returning phone calls," she said. "They're not lost."
She also reiterated the Trump Administration's hard line stance on border crossers.
"We will refer 100 percent of illegal border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution" she said.
That includes separating parents and children if they are crossing illegally.
"If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you," she said. "The lawlessness has to end."
She also said Congress needs to fund the border wall.
"We're building a wall," she said. "Walls work."
She said 150 miles of new border wall is being built or repaired, the first such work in years and more is needed.
Nielsen has been DHS Secretary for six months. It's the largest of all government agencies which includes 22 departments and nearly 225,000 employees.