'Fortune' Was Right To Keep Kirstjen Nielsen At Women's Summit

Fortune magazine triggered calls to boycott its Most Powerful Women Summit by inviting Kirstjen Nielsen, the former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to appear in an onstage interview on Tuesday.

The protest was small, silly and short-lived, and Fortune was right to avoid turning over its conference itinerary to a handful of miffed rabble-rousers.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Grammy-winning singer Brandi Carlile and filmmaker Dream Hampton were among those who backed out of the conference, which mostly featured a noncontroversial group of women business leaders.
Nielsen oversaw the Trump administration's enforcement of a poorly written law that said children couldn't be detained with adults, a standard practice in U.S. criminal courts that routinely separate kids from lawbreaking parents. A zero-tolerance policy aimed at dissuading illegal immigration resulted in the cruel and inhumane practice of splitting up families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Amid withering criticism, President Trump last year signed an executive order to end the policy of separating migrant children from parents who were detained as they tried to enter the U.S. illegally. Nielsen resigned from her job in April, as President Trump demanded a harder line against illegal border crossings, a key campaign pledge that included the construction of a 2,000-mile border wall.
Clinton officially backed out because of a scheduling conflict, but Slate cited an unnamed source familiar with Clinton's decision-making process who said she was dissuaded by Nielsen's presence. Is Clinton really that cowardly?
Her withdrawal occurred before her public spat with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic presidential candidate who also appeared at the Fortune summit. Clinton last week suggested Gabbard was a Russian agent, sparking a public feud that's turned Clinton into a laughingstock.
I'm disappointed that Clinton, Carlile and Hampton withdrew from Fortune's summit over Nielsen's appearance. U.S. immigration policy is a polarizing mess, and deserves more open discussion about necessary reforms. I've studied the issue closely for a book project, but that's another column.
As it turned out, Nielsen's appearance at the summit wasn't that interesting. It consisted of well-rehearsed answers to mostly rehashed questions from PBS NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz. Months ago, Nielsen faced a harsher grilling in congressional hearings.



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