Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, June 11, 2017
The Trump administration last week floated an amnesty idea for potentially 1 million illegal immigrants, looking to find permanent solutions for some of the most sympathetic cases in the long-running immigration debate.
In two days of testimony to Congress, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said he doubts his ability to oust some 250,000 immigrants from Central American countries who have been in the U.S. for nearly two decades on a temporary humanitarian relief program.
He also signaled that he would keep protecting 780,000 Dreamers from deportation and hoped Congress would grant them permanent status.
“You’ve got to solve this problem,” Mr. Kelly told the House Homeland Security Committee when members prodded him not to deport Dreamers.
He said he would not deport Dreamers but warned that the policy could change when someone else takes over his job, making the only solution congressional action. He said there is clear bipartisan support for some form of permanent legalization and urged lawmakers to take the opportunity that the Trump administration is giving.
If lawmakers wait, he warned, a future secretary might take a stricter line on Dreamers and fully cancel President Obama’s 2012 amnesty, known in governmentspeak as DACA.
All told, people from some 10 countries are covered by temporary protected status. Mr. Kelly recently renewed Haiti’s designation, stemming from the 2010 earthquake.
The secretary said he would try to encourage the Haitians to go back eventually. For the Central Americans, however, “it’s kind of hard” to root them out and send them back.
He suggested instead that Congress grant them “a way toward citizenship.”