Child Border Separation Was 'Great Act of American Generosity' Says HHS Secretary

The U.S. Health and Human Services secretary has suggested that the detention of children at the country's southern border was a great act of generosity on behalf of the Trump administration.

Speaking to CNN Tuesday night in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Alex Azar said he believed the U.S. had protected a large number of children who would otherwise have ended up with dangerous people.

"It is one of the great, great acts of American generosity and charity what we are doing for these unaccompanied kids who are smuggled into our country or come across illegally," Azar said, explaining he believed there was "nothing to hide about how we operate these facilities."

"[People] go into these facilities," he continued, "they see the love, the compassion, the care with these kids that our grantees deliver...and they are impressed with what's happening there," he said. While some people had been allowed to tour the facilities, Azar justifed the ban on media cameras as a child protection measure.

"We really believe we have a lot to be proud of… We have saved kids' lives by keeping them from being with some really evil people, some of them, or keeping them with people who are not their parents, keeping them with people who are accused of being a child abuser, we're doing work to protect these children and protect child welfare even as we work as expeditiously as possible to reunite them with their parents," he added, explaining the ultimate goal was to reunite children with their families.

His comments come following an uproar over the Trump administration's previous policy of separating children from their families at the U.S. southern border if they were suspected of entering the country without documentation.

Following the separation of more than 2,000 minors from adults, Trump issued an executive order that put an end to the practice, but not all children have been reunited with their parents. The Independent reported that federal officials missed a court-mandated deadline to reunite all children under 5 with their parents, admitting they would struggle to reach half that number before the deadline.