Appearing in a confirmation hearing yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary nominee Gen. John Kelly called for a multifaceted approach to securing the border and criticized the Obama Administration for giving “a pass” to most illegal aliens. He said that the law would "guide” his decisions if confirmed, and that he would “rapidly” process illegal aliens for return to the countries.

On border security, Gen. Kelly said "A physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job…Certainly, it has to be a layered approach" with defenses that include patrols, sensors and drones. "Defense starts 1,500 miles south of the Rio Grande," he said, and recommended a security plan that also addresses the flow of drugs and violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. 

Kelly said deportation of illegal aliens will have a major effect on reducing illegal border crossings.

“I believe that rapidly processing and returning aliens to their countries of origin in significant numbers will help to immediately and significantly reduce the number of individuals and groups trying to enter the country illegally.”

In a written statement supporting his testimony, he also said "The message I heard [through his work at Southern Command] was always the same: 'If you do not start sending them back to their country of origin quickly and in large numbers they will never stop making the trek north.'”

Kelly believes the Secretary’s job is to enforce the laws on the books.

“My understanding is that under current policies, virtually all illegal aliens get a pass until they commit, and are convicted of, a violent crime,” Kelly said. "The Congress has passed longstanding laws making foreign nationals without legal status removable from the United States, and it is proper for DHS, like any other law enforcement organization, to faithfully execute the laws on the books."

Kelly did not commit to building the new deportation force President-elect Trump mentioned early in the campaign. "At this juncture, I have given no thought to the topic of a deportation force. As I understand it, we have -- generally speaking -- appropriate laws and regulations in place. I do not have a plan at this time, other than enforcement of the law."

Asked about illegal aliens under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Kelly said "There's a big spectrum of people who need to be dealt with…Those categories would be prioritized. I would guess this category might not be the highest priority for removal…I believe that there is a role for traditional prosecutorial discretion, but we cannot refuse to enforce the laws on the books.”

Kelly did not commit to penalizing sanctuary cities, but said,

“If confirmed I don't think I have the authority to pick and choose which laws need to be followed. I understand why they’re protective, some of those local leaders, but I do think the law is the law.”

On the topic of visa overstays, Kelly said "we don't have a particularly good system to alert the day after someone's visa expires and it's not until someone is caught doing something wrong [that they’re exposed]. He said it may be appropriate to "send someone to their house ... and ask them why they haven't departed."

Asked about "extreme vetting" for refugees and certain legal immigrants, Kelly said “One of the problems…is they come from countries that are obviously dysfunctional…[W]hen you're taking in people [from countries] without a lot of the law enforcement bureaucracy, you can't guarantee 100 percent, and… you really can't vet them very well. I guess you do the best you can.” 

Read more in Politico and Military Times.

border security
Interior Enforcement
National Security
entry/exit system
visa overstays

Updated: Wed, Jan 11th 2017 @ 4:08pm EST

Robert 4907 of DE's picture

GREAT!  Maybe it's time for the illegal aliens to pack up and ship out!  Trump is creating jobs for Americans, not illegal aliens.

Martin  1153 of WA's picture

Ahhhhh....a Breath of Fresh Air

An immigration enforcement policy without endless bills....just the good ole laws already on the books. No bills, debt costs or brainless delays necessary. 100% EVerify now anyone?? LOL

Sidney 1534 of CT's picture

Enforce current laws, no comprehensive immigration as it is a codeword for amnesty and expansion of legal immigration! American's do not want illegal immigrants and visa guest-workers taking our jobs! We don't want corporations bringing over millions of Indian guest-workers so that they can have cheap labor and claim Americans can't or won't do the work-when we held the jobs and had to train our replacements when we were laid off! We don't want every city or state giving documentation and driver's licenses to assist illegal immigrants access to services (free) or employment (our jobs)! We don't want corporations to be allowed to screw with retirees or anybody else's pensions that were EARNED, or eliminate retiree heath insurance that was PROMISED! We don't want to be screwed on our taxes because corporations (so called job creators-NOT) don't want to pay US\State taxes and they keep Billions of dollars offshore! Corporations are NOT people, American citizens are people!! The signs of this are everywhere, and we shouldn't have needed Donald Trump to point them out.

Americans are losing their jobs to mostly visa holding Indians across this country, entire apartment complexes are filled with these guest workers, stores are full of guest workers since Americans can no longer afford to shop after being fired, training their replacements (here and offshore in India). It is as clear as can be what is going on.

This is not an immigration comparable to the past, these non-immigrants are being brought over for the single purpose of taking Americans jobs at lower wages. Now visa expansion is the goal of our bought politicians and the corporate lobby; even the trade agreements (TPP) are loaded with language meant to expand foreign guest workers taking what's left of American jobs. Our representatives say they love America, but they seem to hate Americans.

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Thomas 2924 of IN's picture

Like other members of the armed forces, when Gen. Kelly pledged to defend the Constitution he was putting his life on the line. Obviously he takes the responsibility very seriously. My liberal Democrat mother, herself a WWII veteran, taught me that if you don't like a law you should work to change it, but that it is important to obey the law until it is changed. That is the only way a democracy can work. We have had eight years of a president who perhaps learned something very different from his mother. It will be a relief to the American people, and our Constitution, to have Gen. Kelly at DHS.

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David 2341 of NC's picture

we would not be in the situation we are in if the laws on the books had been enforced in the first place.. the obama administration by intimidation, rewritten administrative policies have circumvented law enforcement