The reformed Department of Homeland Security has arrested nearly 66,000 individuals who are either known or suspected of being in the country illegally, Secretary John Kelly declared Thursday at a press event intended to tout GOP progress against illegal immigration.
The 66,000 arrested since January include 48,000 convicted criminals, he said. “Many of the rest are charged with crimes, often multiple ones, or had gang affiliations,” Kelly said.
But Kelly also slammed congressional legislators who are quietly trying to roll back enforcement of the popular immigration laws, saying:
DHS does not make the laws. Congress does, and we will enforce the laws that are passed by Congress, and I am offended when members of this institution [the House of Representatives] exert pressure and often threaten me and my officers to ignore the laws they make and I am sworn to uphold.
Kelly did not name any of the legislators whom he said are trying to restrict DHS enforcement operations.
Kelly’s strongly worded statements came during a press conference to tout the GOP’s mixed record on immigration reform and enforcement, and to boost two modest immigration reform bills, which are scheduled for a vote on Thursday. “We are doing two important promises on immigration today,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told the press conference.
The two pending bills — dubbed “Kate’s Law” and the “No Sanctuaries for Criminals Act” — raise possible jail penalties for illegal immigrants who repeatedly return to the United States, and allow federal officials additional legal authority to cut off some categories of federals funds to the cities and state which refuse to let federal officers arrest illegal immigrants held in local jailhouses.
However, the business-backed GOP leadership has been slow to push pro-American immigration reforms. For example, the two new bills were pulled from a comprehensive reform, the Davis-Oliver Act, which has now been sidelined.
Also, Ryan and other leaders have done little or nothing to overcome determined Democratic opposition to building President Donald Trump’s promise to build a border wall. GO leaders have pressured Kelly to allow companies to import even more ‘H-2B visa‘ foreign workers to replace blue-collar Americans.
This summer and fall, Trump’ and his deputies are expected to ratchet up pressure on Republicans and Democrats in Congress to allow border-wall construction to begin later this year, with a goal of building roughly 60 miles of wall during 2018.
Immigration reform groups, including NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, are also rallying Americans to pressure GOP and Democratic legislators.
Democrats are pushing to limit funds for the arrest and repatriation of illegal immigrants, even though Kelly’s arrest of 66,000 illegals is only half of one percent of all illegals living in the United States. So far, Kelly’s DHS is repatriating only illegals who have broken criminal laws and is largely ignoring the many illegals working in meatpacking plants, factories, and other workplaces.
Democrats also argue that cities and state have a right and duty to resist federal enforcement of immigration laws in their jurisdictions.
Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House judiciary committee, said “overwhelming number of law enforcement officers want to have good cooperation, good working relationships between federal, state and local law enforcement … it is a simple principle – that if you are going to receive taxpayer dollars from the federal government to keep people safe, then you’ve got to follow the law and keep them safe.”
Outside Washington, state and local officials are creating “so-called sanctuary cities” which threaten public safety, Kelly said. “Politicians have chosen politics … over public safety,” he said.
According to Kelly:
The word ‘sanctuary’ calls to mind someplace safe but too often for families and victims affected by illegal immigrant crime sanctuary cities are anything but safe. Instead, these cities are places that allow some criminals go free, undermine federal law enforcement nd make our communities less safe. When a sanctuary jurisdiction fails to honore an ICE detainer and instead releases a criminal back to the streets, it does not mean ICE stops looking for the bad guy. Instead it means that ICE has to take its targeted operations out of the safe, secure and private confines of a jail, and go into neighborhoods, business, and other public places. That is infinitely more dangerous for the law-abiding public and for my ICE officers [and] it creates unneccesary and avoidable anxiety for many in the legal immigrant community. Arresting a criminal while they are still in custody is always, always, the best option.
Additionally, failing to honor an ICE detainer means these criminals are out on the street that much longer. Whether that is days or weeks or months, a criminal is back on the street and oftentimes breaking our laws again. It is beyond my comprehension why state and local officials sworn to enforce the laws of the nation — as I am — would actively discourage or outright prevent law-enforcement agencies from upholding the laws of the United States, and they would set public funds aside to pay for the legal protection of illegal aliens who are also lawbreakers. In doing so, they prioritize criminals over the public and law-enforcement officer safety.
For background on the sidelined Davis-Oliver bill, read here.
Many polls show that Americans are very generous, they do welcome individual immigrants, and they do want to like the idea of immigration. But the same polls also show that most Americans are increasingly worried that large-scale legal immigration will change their country and disadvantage themselves and their children.
This current annual flood of foreign labor spikes profits and stock values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. It also drives up real estate prices, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, and sidelines marginalized Americans and their families.