DHS Chief Kirstjen Nielsen Hints Donald Trump May Close Border: 'He's Very Serious About It'

President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump gestures during the National Republican Congressional Committee Annual Spring Dinner on April 2 in Washington, DC. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, claims President Donald Trump is "very serious" about closing the border with Mexico.

Speaking on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight show on Tuesday night, Nielsen said the U.S. was facing one of its worst crises in a decade as the administration battles with Congress to address the issue of immigration.

Last week, Trump suggested that closing the border with Mexico would be a "profit-making operation," which many interpreted as a reference to the United States' trade deficit with its southern neighbor.

Nielsen indicated the possibility of closing the border was very real and was just one of the measures the Trump administration was considering to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.

"I think the president has been clear and all of that is on the table, including closing the border," she said. "We have to stop the drugs, we have to stop the smuggling and trafficking. I don't think the president could be any clearer in his position. He will take every action within his authority to stop this flow."

Asked by Carlson whether Trump would consider eliminating birthright citizenship, Nielsen suggested the president had not ruled out that particular option either.

The Fox News host then pointed out that while a promise to tackle immigration was central to Trump's campaign, she noted that "things seem less under control now" than before the president was elected.

When Carlson inquired about the number of people living illegally in the U.S., suggesting it could be as high as 22 million, Nielsen admitted the department did not have a clear picture.

"We don't know, and part of that is because we do not have the wall that the president continues to advocate for," she said. "We cannot in every circumstance tell you who is crossing the border."

The homeland security chief then expanded on the issue, suggesting that having millions of people in the U.S. illegally was one of the worst crises the country has faced in a decade.

"The security aspects of this and the humanitarian aspects of this have got to be addressed," she said. "This is at the very top of our list at DHS."

Nielsen added that the department was combining resources from different law enforcement agencies in a bid to tackle the immigration issue, but she insisted that Congress had to help the government.

Carlson then quizzed Nielsen over whether Trump would be prepared to send the military to the border with Mexico, given the magnitude of the crisis.

Nielson suggested the government was "looking into that" and had sent a request to the Department of Defense. "He has full authority to defend our country," she said. "That's what he is moving to do. His statements about closing the border are a perfect example. We will take all action to do this. It's on the table."

Congress, Nielsen suggested, was "politically blinded" when it came to supporting the Trump administration's pledge to address the immigration issue.

"I don't believe they don't see it or they don't understand it, they are just willfully choosing to ignore it," she said.