Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Sunday said under the Trump administration’s tougher immigration rules, even a “single DUI” can start the deportation process.
“It is fair to say that the definition of criminal has not changed, but where on the spectrum of criminality we operate has changed,” Kelly said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Pressed to elaborate on who wouldn’t have faced deportation before but would now, Kelly said, “someone, as an example, with multiple DUIs.”
“Even a single DUI, depending on other aspects, would get you into the system,” he said.
Kelly said it’s the law of the land, not the discretion of immigration agents, that carry out deportations.
“You have to remember that there’s a system, a legal justice system in place,” Kelly said. “And the law deports people. Secretary Kelly doesn’t. ICE doesn’t. It’s the United States criminal justice system or justice system that deports people.”
He also said President Trump’s tough talk on security at the border has “absolutely” caused a drop in the number of immigrants trying to enter the United States.
“The attention being paid to the border certainly has injected into those people – and the vast majority of them are good people from Central America – but it’s injected enough confusion in their minds, I think,” Kelly said.
“They’re just waiting to see what actually does happen,” he added.
Kelly also credited Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ visit to the US-Mexican border in Arizona last week where he announced a series of strict regulations to stop illegal immigration, including ordering federal prosecutors to pursue charges against immigrants who commit crimes.
Sessions said the “lawlessness, the abdication of duty to enforce our laws, and the catch-and-release policies of the past are over,” he said. He said Trump’s presidency has reduced illegal border crossings substantially.
From January to February, crossings fell by 40 percent and in March showed a 72 percent drop from the month before, the lowest figure in 17 years, Sessions said.