WASHINGTON, DC – Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Sunday criticized a federal judge’s order reinstating DACA as offensive for suggesting that ending DACA is racist. She went on to declare DACA unconstitutional, and unapologetically asserted that her oath of office is to follow the U.S. Constitution.
Nielsen appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, discussing various issues the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is dealing with. A large part of the interview concerned the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is an amnesty program for 800,000 illegal aliens announced by President Barack Obama and developed by former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
DACA was the predecessor of DAPA, a larger amnesty program based on the same legal argument which covered four million illegal aliens. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that DAPA was illegal, and once President Donald Trump was inaugurated and Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed, the federal government dropped the remaining legal appeals and let the larger program lapse.
Supporters of DACA filed suit to keep the smaller program going, asserting that the Trump administration violated the law by ending the program, presenting legal arguments that have never before been adopted by a federal court.
Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California—a well-known liberal judge appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton—agreed with those novel arguments.
In his preliminary injunction ordering DHS to resume DACA immediately, Alsup wrote that he found “a plausible inference that racial animus towards Mexicans and Latinos was a motivating factor in the decision to end DACA.”
Secretary Nielsen did not appreciate the implication that federal officials at DHS are racist.
“With respect to the quote, I find that offensive on its face,” Nielsen said. “I took an oath when I became secretary of homeland security to defend and support the Constitution.”
“The program was unconstitutional,” she declared, consistent with the Fifth Circuit’s decision that the similarly named DAPA amnesty was illegal.
Only Congress can change immigration law. Yet DAPA and DACA did so through executive fiat. Contrary to the claims of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra during that same broadcast, neither program ever went through the legal process required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). That was one reason the federal appeals court struck down DAPA.
Immigration security is a longtime focus for Nielsen, who took over DHS with more background in securing the homeland than any of her predecessors. She has been working in D.C. since graduating from Georgetown and later the elite law school at the University of Virginia.
Under President George W. Bush, Nielsen served on the White House Homeland Security Council. She also established the Office of Legislative Policy and Government Affairs at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is a component of DHS.
She went to the private sector during the Obama administration, but continued working on security issues. She worked at George Washington University on the Resilience Task Force at the university’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security, as well as at the World Economic Forum on its Global Risks Report Advisory Board.
Nielsen worked on President Donald Trump’s presidential transition team. She then served as chief of staff at DHS, then as principal deputy White House chief of staff, until she was confirmed in December 2017 as the sixth Secretary of Homeland Security.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.