Washington, Mar 17 (EFE).- Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Friday that the Donald Trump government is not going after those undocumented youngsters known as “dreamers” in order to deport them, and that his own deportation priorities are basically focused on criminals.
“I can guarantee you we’re not going after kids that are fully DACA qualified,” the secretary said during a meeting with the House Democratic Caucus and Hispanic Caucus with regard to youngsters benefiting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, promoted by then-President Barack Obama to spare them the fear of being deported.
According to a Congressional spokesperson who attended the meeting, House members pressured the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about cases of registered “dreamers” being deported to their countries of origin in the scant two months of the Trump government.
Kelly did not, however give a straight answer when questioned about the legality of DACA according to the DHS, answering only that he is “not a lawyer” who would know how to answer such questions.
Instead he responded “I’m the best thing that happened to DACA…it is still on the books,” adding that such relief for young immigrants has not been eliminated by executive order.
The meeting with members of Congress took place after Democrats sent dozens of letters to Kelly demanding explanations of the new government’s immigration policies that have raised such concern in their communities, but up to now had received no answers.
Representative Norma Torres (D-Calif.) asked the homeland security secretary whether the DHS will separate mothers from their children at the border, or if it is considering family reunification strategies.
Kelly said that no such separations are being carried out, though several weeks ago he did not discard that possibility, and insisted that the DHS only keeps minors in its custody for 72 hours before transferring them to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The harsher deportation system promoted by Trump has sparked a heated controversy, and members of Congress, mostly Democrats, have demanded answers for weeks in order to know how these measures will affect their communities.
For her part, Hispanic Caucus chair Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) accused the administration of brushing aside the guarantees of due process for the undocumented, which, he said, has filled immigrant communities with fear.
At a press conference after the meeting, the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), said that Kelly did not discuss their issues very deeply, though he did clear up some of their doubts.
“I don’t deport anyone. ICE doesn’t deport anyone. The law deports people. The Department of Homeland Security does not deport anyone,” Kelly insisted, and told the members of Congress that if people don’t like law the way it is, they should write and tell their representatives to change it.