Homeland Security chief, Hispanic lawmakers meet on immigration

Updated July 12, 2017 - 3:15 pm

WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for a tense discussion Wednesday over enforcement of immigration laws.

It was the second meeting between Kelly and the CHC, which peppered the secretary about Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests, removal of undocumented immigrants who have served in the U.S. military and the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Department of Homeland Security is reviewing the DACA program.

Kelly would not tell Hispanic lawmakers whether the Trump administration would defend the Obama-era DACA program, prompting an angry response from CHC members who attended the closed-door meeting, a congressional aide said.

“It’s disconcerting that at the same time the administration continues to round up mothers and children, House Republicans are proposing $1.6 billion for the construction of a southern border wall,” said Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev.

House Republicans have included the border wall funding in a spending bill for Homeland Security.

Kelly said last month that the administration’s enforcement of immigration laws has resulted in confrontational comments from some lawmakers who are angry with ICE and how it carries out laws that Congress wrote.

President Donald Trump has stepped up immigration enforcement and touts it as a measure to protect citizens from crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

“The administration claims to only arrest ‘bad hombres,’ but ICE’s own data shows an increase in deportations among nonviolent offenders or immigrants with no criminal record,” Kihuen said.

“We will not stand for an immigration policy focused on breaking up immigrant families,” he said in a statement following the hour-long meeting with Kelly.

Contact Gary Martin at 202-662-7390 or gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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