On Friday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, targeted by House Democrats over President Trump’s immigration enforcement policies, made a startling admission, boasting, “I’m the best thing that happened to DACA. It is still on the books.”
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, aka DACA, was implemented by the Obama administration in June 2012, permitting illegal immigrants who entered the United States as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
As The Hill reported, Kelly’s remark was prompted while discussing Rep. Nannette Barragan’s assertion that President Trump’s immigration policy would frighten DACA applicants into avoiding enrolling in DACA out of fear the information they would divulge would be used to deport them.
Kelly said that DADA information had not been used for that purpose as yet, but that could change.
A source from the meeting told The Hill that Kelly acknowledged he opposes much of the current immigration policy, begging the Democrats to change it if they felt like it: “If you don’t like the laws we are enforcing, and I don’t like many of them, please, please, please change the law.”
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), who attended the meeting, said approvingly, “That same pushback that everyone got and didn’t like, I think he does that same pushback to the administration when it comes to DACA kids and others. Even though he was general-like in his demeanor and his attitude, that can be a very positive thing.”
In November of 2014, President Obama attempted to expand DACA, initiating a new program for illegal immigrants who were the parents of United States citizens, thus allowing roughly four million people to be eligible for a new legal status that would have deferred their deportations and permitted them to work legally, even receiving Social Security cards. One million more people illegal immigrants would have been protected from deportation.
In December 2014, Texas and 25 other states, all with Republican governors, sued to stop Obama’s plan; in February 2015, Judge Andrew S Hanen issued a preliminary injunction blocking Obama’s expansion from going into effect while the case, Texas v. United States, proceeded. In June of 2016, the United States Supreme Court left the injunction in place.
President Trump, early in his presidential campaign, said in 2015 that he wanted to repeal the Obama administration’s immigration orders, including DACA, as USA Today reported. Trump said, “We have to make a whole new set of standards. And when people come in, they have to come in legally.” In his announcement that he was running for president in the summer of 2015, he promised to “immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration,” meaning DACA.
“I’m the best thing that happened to DACA. It is still on the books.”
DHS Chief John Kelly
Remember when Trump bashed Marco Rubio for being a member of the Gang of Eight, referring to him as “Marco ‘Amnesty’ Rubio”? Or when Trump tweeted this in September 2016:
Marco Rubio is a member of the Gang Of Eight or, very weak on stopping illegal immigration. Only changed when poll numbers crashed.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2015
If Kelly is any indication, there may soon be a Gang of Nine.