Kelly: Dream­ers won’t be de­ported, but need per­ma­nent sta­tus.

Only law­mak­ers can solve the prob­lem, he says

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John F. Kelly said Wed­nes­day that his agents are not ac­tively try­ing to de­port il­le­gal im­mi­grant Dream­ers, but pleaded with Congress to pass a bill grant­ing them a more per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus, say­ing only law­mak­ers can solve the prob­lem.

Mr. Kelly de­clined to take a po­si­tion on whether the 2012 amnesty Pres­i­dent Obama created for Dream­ers is le­gal, but said the pro­gram, known in gov­ern­ment cir­cles as DACA or De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, is still in ef­fect.

He said “illegals” who have been prop­erly ap­proved for DACA will be safe from de­por­ta­tion, but said those who haven’t ap­plied, and some who were ap­proved de­spite hav­ing crim­i­nal records that should make them in­el­i­gi­ble, will be de­ported.

One of those Dream­ers, Jes­sica Colotl, will be in fed­eral court Thurs­day ask­ing a judge to re­in­state her DACA sta­tus af­ter it was re­voked ear­lier this year.

Her case could de­ter­mine whether DACA is a dis­cre­tionary grant that can be re­voked, as the Obama and Trump ad­min­is­tra­tions have ar­gued, or whether it’s a right en­force­able by the courts.

“When my DACA sta­tus was taken away from me, it ba­si­cally took my life away,” Ms. Colotl said on a con­fer­ence call with re­porters Wed­nes­day. “It was an ar­bi­trary de­ci­sion. I had been granted DACA be­fore and noth­ing about my cir­cum­stances had changed.”

U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment said last month that Ms. Colotl had pleaded guilty to a felony — ly­ing to a po­lice of­fi­cer — in Ge­or­gia, which dis­qual­i­fies her from DACA. ICE be­gan to re­con­sider her case last year, un­der Mr. Obama, but made the re­vo­ca­tion this year un­der Mr. Trump.

Ms. Colotl and her lawyers said she doesn’t have a felony guilty plea on her record, and said the gov­ern­ment even ad­mit­ted in court doc­u­ments last month that the Ge­or­gia case against her does not rise to the level of a felony for im­mi­gra­tion pur­poses.

“That charge is com­pletely bo­gus,” said Michael Tan, a lawyer at the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union who is han­dling the im­mi­gra­tion case.

ICE would not com­ment to The Wash­ing­ton Times, cit­ing the on­go­ing le­gal bat­tle.

Im­mi­gra­tion ac­tivists are closely watch­ing the case, say­ing it’s one of a hand­ful of high-pro­file in­stances that sug­gest Mr. Trump is de­port­ing Dream­ers, de­spite sig­nals dur­ing the cam­paign and the pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion that he would not do so.

Rep. Luis V. Gu­tier­rez, Illi­nois Demo­crat, ac­cused Mr. Kelly of hav­ing “lied” to His­panic mem­bers of Congress about DACA en­force­ment.

Some 780,000 peo­ple have been ap­proved for DACA. To qual­ify, il­le­gal im­mi­grants must have come to the U.S. as chil­dren, been in the coun­try by 2007, been 30 or younger as of 2012 and have pur­sued their high school diploma. DACA re­cip­i­ents are granted work per­mits en­ti­tling them to So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers, driver’s li­censes and other tax­payer ben­e­fits.

De­spite not tak­ing a stand on the le­gal­ity, Mr. Kelly’s de­part­ment is still pro­cess­ing cases. And he in­sisted he’s not try­ing to de­port them.

“We are not, not, not tar­get­ing DACA reg­is­trants right now,” Mr. Kelly told the House Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee.

He went on to say he gets “beat up a lot” by both Repub­li­cans and Democrats on Capi­tol Hill who say he should leave Dream­ers alone. He said it’s up to them to pass a more per­ma­nent so­lu­tion.

“I am hop­ing frankly be­cause there is bi­par­ti­san sup­port … for do­ing some­thing about DACA le­gally, leg­isla­tively,” Mr. Kelly said.

Both Repub­li­cans and Democrats have ex­pressed sup­port for a more per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus for Dream­ers — though the last time Congress tried to act, in 2010, the GOP fil­i­bus­tered a bill in the Se­nate.

Many Repub­li­cans have ar­gued Mr. Obama’s 2012 amnesty is an il­le­gal use of ex­ec­u­tive power.

Mr. Obama him­self re­peat­edly said he didn’t have this kind of au­thor­ity — un­til he made an elec­tionyear re­ver­sal in June 2012, sud­denly de­cid­ing he did in fact have pow­ers to grant a get-out-of-jail-free card to an en­tire cat­e­gory of il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“We are not, not, not tar­get­ing (De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals) reg­is­trants right now,” said Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John F. Kelly.

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