DHS chief Kelly: Policy shift means DUIs could lead to deportation

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. CREDIT AP

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. CREDIT AP

John Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said marijuana is "not a factor" in the US drug war, and authorities should instead be focusing on other narcotics. Most deportations have been centered on high-profile crimes such as rape and murder.

The Washington Post this week reported on an internal Department of Homeland Security assessment detailing the department's efforts to scale up its holding facilities for undocumented immigrants and bolster arrest efforts by local law enforcement.

"Even a single DUI, depending on other aspects, would get you into the system", he said.

Combined, the three drugs killed more than 50,000 people in the USA since 2015, said Kelly. "The kind of money they can offer an attorney general in Guatemala or a police chief in Mexico City, the kind of money they can offer - and if you don't take the money they're happy to send your youngest child's head to your home in a plastic bag". "52,000 Americans. You can't put a price on human misery", Kelly said. And we're operating more or less at the other end of the spectrum, and that is criminals, multiple convictions.

"For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: This is a new era", Sessions said last week.

Like Kelly, Sessions also made clear that stopping illegal immigration is only part of the solution and that removing people here unlawfully - including those protected from deportation by so-called sanctuary cities - is also a priority. It marks an evolution from statements Kelly made a year ago, when he said the "hypocrisy" of legalizing pot in the US could make efforts to combat drug production overseas more hard. And that is to execute and uphold the nation's laws. "And the law deports people".

Kelly also said that reports of plans to hire thousands of immigration officers - which Trump called a "deportation force" at times during the campaign trail - was "a law enforcement force". Secretary Kelly doesn't. ICE doesn't.

Those changes came on the heels of Trump's executive order calling for the deportation of illegal immigrants who "have been convicted of any criminal offense", "have been charged with any criminal offense", "have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense", or "are subject to a final order of removal".

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