Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly Losing Support in Congress

President Trump (l) with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly

Former Marine general John Kelly received the support of all Republicans and most Democrats when he was confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security five months ago. Now, says a report from Politico, many of the Senators who voted for him regret it.

Kelly was viewed as a straight-edge product of the military who could restrain the anti-immigrant fervor of Donald Trump. Instead, Kelly has been sucked fully into Trump World. According to Politico:

Today, it’s tough to find anyone on the left willing to defend Kelly. He has alienated potential allies on Capitol Hill, including Democrats who voted to confirm him, and is endangering his reputation as a nonpartisan figure in a presidential administration that has relatively few.

Among other things, Kelly “joked with Trump about using violence against reporters and defended Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, amid allegations that he tried to set up a secret back channel to the Russian government.” Far from being an independent voice, Kelly has appeared at times to be a family retainer for the President.

More substantively, Kelly as DHS Secretary has done the opposite of what he promised to do at his confirmation hearings. While Kelly had repeatedly stated before his confirmation that he would use ICE to target immigrants with criminal and terrorist backgrounds, in fact, the number of immigrants arrested with neither of these attributes has doubled. Children and moms fleeing persecution in Central America have become a particular target of Kelly’s Department of Homeland Security.

Kelly has also been an outspoken defender of President Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban, even though every court that has looked at it has had problems with it ranging from violations of the First Amendment to its seeming disregard of Due Process. His promises of religious neutrality have not been borne out by his actions.

Kelly’s ignorance of the operations of ICE, the Citizenship and Immigration Service, and the Border Patrol have also become clear. I expressed a lot of reservations about Kelly last year because he had absolutely no experience with immigration law prior to his nomination. This fact has made him susceptible to the influences of the Alt-Right ideologues in the White House and Department of Justice who seem to guide his policies. According to Politico:

Activists say Kelly’s actions and statements suggest he is not familiar with the intricacies of U.S. immigration law, and that as a result he may be willing to go along with hard-line interpretations of the law offered by other members of Trump’s Cabinet, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has long championed a crackdown on illegal and sometimes legal immigration.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.