Speaking with Chuck Todd for Meet The Press, Kelly claimed that illegal border crossings across the U.S./Mexico border had dropped 65-70% over the past two months (he did not specify a frame of reference for comparison), partially crediting Trump’s campaign and presidential rhetoric for the alleged decrease.
Kelly contrasted the approaches of the Trump and Obama administrations regarding the removal of foreigners illegally in the country. He suggested that the Obama administration did not consider intoxicated driving convictions on the part of criminal aliens to be sufficient grounds for deportation:
CHUCK TODD: “So can you give me an example of somebody that wasn’t deported before that you’re deporting now?”
SEC. JOHN KELLY: “Well, someone, as an example, with multiple DUIs. Even a single DUI, depending on other aspects, would get you into the system. And remember, for the most–“
CHUCK TODD: “And this wouldn’t have been the case under the –“
SEC. JOHN KELLY: “Unlikely.”
CHUCK TODD: “– previous administration?”
Todd also asked Kelly if the definition of “criminal” had changed from the Obama administration to the Trump administration in the context of prioritizing foreign aliens slated for removal from the country:
CHUCK TODD: “But define a criminal here, because that’s where there’s been– So, it seemed as if in the Obama administration there was one definition. There seems to be another definition in this administration.”
SEC. JOHN KELLY: “Right.”
CHUCK TODD: “Is the fair to say?”
SEC. JOHN KELLY: “It is fair to say that the definition of criminal has not changed, but where on the spectrum of criminality we operate has changed.”
Addressing the smuggling of narcotics across the southern border – particularly cocaine and heroin – Kelly called for a “comprehensive drug demand reduction program.” American demand for such drugs, he added, could not be ignored in addressing criminal enterprises mostly run by Mexican drug cartels:
“Drug consumption in the United States is the problem. Just cocaine alone, when you consider the massive amounts of profit that come out of the United States. The trafficker’s biggest problem is not getting drugs, till now, into the United States. The biggest problem they had was laundering the money.
So when you have that much profit coming out of the United States, and that profit is managed by cartels that are beyond violent. And so you go to the Latin American countries, Mexico, the United States for that matter. You mentioned corruption already. The kind of money they can offer an attorney general in Guatemala or a police chief in Mexico City, the kind of money they can offer -and if you don’t take the money they’re happy to send your youngest child’s head to your home in a plastic bag.
It’s three things. Methamphetamine. Almost all produced in Mexico. Heroin. Virtually all produced in Mexico. And cocaine that comes up from further south. Those three drugs result in the death of I think in ’15, I think, of 52,000 people – to include opiates. It’s a massive problem. 52,000 Americans dead. You can’t put a price on human misery. The cost to the United States is over $250 billion a year.
The solution is not arresting a lot of users. The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill.”
The Trump administration has made varying moves on the front of illegal immigration in recent weeks, including a warning from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “sanctuary cities” regarding the withdrawal of federal funds and the publication of weekly reports on criminality from foreigners illegally in the country.