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DHS chief gets earful from Dems on immigration

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DHS chief gets earful from Dems on immigration

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly got an earful on Friday from House Democrats outraged over President Trump’s aggressive approach to immigration enforcement. Kelly met with the Democrats in the Capitol, where the lawmakers — particularly members of the Congressional Hispanic and Asian Pacific caucuses — sounded off against Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants and his executive orders barring refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.  Kelly, for his part, said he’s simply upholding the law, according to a source in the room. But he also emphasized that he opposes many parts of the law, pleading with the Democrats to change 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,” he said, according to the source. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, led the charge for the Democrats, accusing the administration of disregarding due process protections and instilling fear in immigrant communities, according to the source.  She’s been up in arms since last month, when several Hispanic Democrats were barred from a briefing by officials at the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch.  Kelly did not back down, according to the source, saying he’s taken a “different philosophical” tack than his predecessor, Jeh Johnson, when it comes to border security.  When Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Congress’s first Chinese-American lawmaker, raised concerns that racial bias has been a factor underlying deportations, Kelly rebuffed the suggestion. “I reject just about everything you said about my people acting [with] prejudices and biases,” he said, according to the source.  “In every issue, there has been legal issues that they did what they did. But it’s not because their religion or the color of their skin or their politics. … I don’t report anyone, ICE doesn’t deport anyone, the laws and the judges of the United States does. … The Department of Homeland Security does not deport anyone.” The Democrats are also concerned that the administration’s new deportation approach leaves those benefitting from former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program newly vulnerable to deportations. Kelly suggested those “dreamers” are still protected — as long as he’s in charge.  ”I’m the best thing that happened to DACA,” he said, according to the source. “It is still on the books.”

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