TAMPA, Florida — Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is facing backlash from her Tampa high school after she went before a national audience defending the Trump administration's highly scrutinized immigration policy.
On Tuesday, a group of alumni from Berkeley Preparatory School drafted a petition opposing her and calling for the school to condemn her actions.
"Secretary Nielsen, Class of ’90, does not reflect the core values that were taught at our independent high school, especially the value ingrained in most graduates’ heads: Make a positive difference, and use your privilege for good," the group of alumni wrote in a press release.
This comes just a day after Nielsen declined to apologize for the administration’s family separation practices.
"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," Nielsen said on Monday. "Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards."
The group of alumni says that Secretary Nielsen’s agency has the power to halt the practice of separating children from their parents at the border but that she instead, shifted the blame to Congress.
In a letter to Berkeley Preparatory School Headmaster Joseph Seivold, the group asked:
"Today, we respectfully request that you condemn the policies causing the separation of children from their families at the US-Mexico border, implemented and enforced by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen — known to us as Kirstjen Nielsen, Class of 1990."
The petition has already received more than 500 signatures.
Wednesday, ABC Action News spoke to one of the co-writers of the letter.
Richard Stull said, "A huge part of the school's mission is to bring up students that make a positive difference in the world. I don't think there is any way to spin creating camps for children in this kind of manner makes a positive difference in the world."
Jake Hoffman, is the V.P. of the Young Republicans in Tampa. He said the immigration practices go beyond party lines.
"There is a ton of pressure to remedy that situation," said Hoffman.
Hoffman said petitions like Berkeley's add to the public outcry for change. He believes while the president has support, it can be difficult for them to speak up.
"Saying something that is not straight along party lines, it's starting to rattle the base," said Hoffman.
Stull feels today's surprise executive order to keep migrant families together is a promising sign.
But they are not stopping. The petition is raising money for legal aid and has topped $7,000 in less than 24 hours.