In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd on Sunday, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly justified plans to hire thousands of additional immigration and border-control agents, asserting that the Trump administration’s revised criteria for criminal behavior by illegal aliens requires a larger force.
Kelly noted that the DHS is not creating a “deportation force,” yet reiterated that U.S. law requires people who are here illegally to leave or face deportation.
Currently, Kelly contended, the focus for deportations is on illegal alien criminals—particularly those with multiple convictions—but the convictions could be for lesser types of offenses than those considered deportation-worthy during the Obama administration.
According to The Washington Post, the DHS is seeking to employ 10,000 more immigration and customs enforcement officials and 5,000 additional border-security agents. The department also intends to increase the number of detention beds to house illegal aliens.
“The definition of criminal has not changed, but where on the spectrum of criminality we operate has changed,” Kelly said Sunday.
Kelly asserted that multiple offenses of driving under the influence of alcohol could trigger a deportation, and said that it is possible that a single such charge could result in removal from the country.
“Even a single DUI, depending on other aspects, would get you into the system,” he said.
Kelly said that it will require congressional assistance to decide how to address the estimated 11 million illegal aliens already in the U.S., including “Dream Act” children whose parents brought them into the country illegally.
Obama issued an executive order in 2012 protecting 750,000 young illegal aliens from deportation. The Trump administration has not yet announced its position, yet the president has signaled that he is seeking a solution that would allow them to stay.
“It’s very complicated,” Kelly said, regarding the array of illegal aliens. “There are people who came here as children. There are people here who came here illegally many years ago and have married local men and women and had children.”
According to Kelly, people who overstay their visas present one of the biggest challenges and were, therefore, the focus of February raids affecting nearly 700 people in California, Texas, New York and other states, 75 percent of whom the DHS said were criminals.
“It’s time-consuming,” Kelly said, “but at the end of the day, they came here with a promise to leave, and we have to track them down if they’re still in the country and put them in the proceedings to deport them.”
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