Kelly has simple message to critics: change law or shut up

Brittany BishopApr 19, 2017

Homeland Security Chief John Kelly said Sunday that the opaque mish-mash of legal moves and executive orders undertaken by President Trump to curb illegal immigration has sowed "enough confusion" into the system that illegal immigrants are trying to enter the US less frequently.

"It is a potentially unsafe gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs", Kelly said, adding: "Its use and possession is against federal law and until the law is changed by the U.S. Congress we in DHS are sworn to uphold all the laws on the books". The assessment also described attempts to hire tens of thousands of new immigration enforcement officials.

"It is fair to say that the definition of criminal has not changed, but where on the spectrum of criminality we operate has changed", Kelly said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Secretary Kelly says his focus is on the "deadly" drugs coming from Latin American countries like Mexico. Lawmakers this month will consider a broad spending bill funding agencies for the remainder of this fiscal year that could include border-security funds.

Congress will then turn to next fiscal year's budget request from the Trump administration, which proposes deep cuts to programs for education and the environment, among others, in part to offset the expense of more immigration enforcement and border-control measures.

The new guidance stemmed from two executive orders Trump signed days after his inauguration that were created to help make good on his campaign promise to increase deportations and strengthen border security.

Kelly said increased drug arrests are not a solution.

Notably, last Thursday Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government introduced legislation to let adult possess up to 30 grams of marijuana in public, a measure that would make Canada the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition on recreational marijuana (RM). "President Trump has recognized this and taken it on".

Those changes came on the heels of Trump's executive order calling for the deportation of illegal immigrants who "have been convicted of any criminal offense", "have been charged with any criminal offense", "have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense", or "are subject to a final order of removal". And that is to execute and uphold the nation's laws.

"When people think about DHS, they think about how we respond to terrorism. They have done this in the past, are doing it today, and will do it in the future".

Kelly said stepped-up enforcement has had a dramatic effect. The backgrounds of potential DHS agents is "vetted extensively", he said.

"The threat to our nation and our American way of life has not diminished", Kelly said during a speech at George Washington University.

In Sunday's interview, Kelly said last week's bomb attack did what it needed to do.

I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use.

Kelly's interview was conducted before a failed ballistic missile launch from North Korea on Sunday.

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