Say what? Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) ripped White House chief of staff John Kelly for Donald Trump’s decision to phase out theDeferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy in highly inflammatory language for a 46-year veteran of the armed forces. Gutierrez claims that Kelly reneged on a promise to protect the DACA program, but seems to be confused over the role Kelly actually plays in the administration now.
He also seems confused about Kelly’s history in the armed forces, to which we’ll return in a moment:
“General Kelly is a hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear. He has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House along with the white supremacists and those enabling the President’s actions by ‘just following orders,’ ” Gutiérrez said in a scathing statement, shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy will be phased out.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus member claimed Kelly backed out of a commitment to protect DACA recipients, who were brought to the United States illegally as children, from deportation while serving as the Homeland Security secretary.
“General Kelly, when he was the head of Homeland Security, lied straight to the faces of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus about preventing the mass deportation of DREAMers. Now as Chief of Staff, this former general is executing the plan to take away their lifeline and taking steps to criminalize young people who live and work here legally,” he said.
Let’s take this one level at a time. First, Kelly no longer runs DHS, in case Gutierrez missed the memo. He runs the White House staff, which means he has no direct impact on policymaking. Therefore, Kelly has no formal role in executing policy, let alone making it. If Gutierrez has a problem with the policy, then it’s with Trump rather than Kelly
Next, Gutierrez claims that Kelly lied about “preventing the mass deportation of DREAMers” to the CHC. If Kelly ever did make that commitment, there doesn’t appear to be a public record of that kind of pledge anywhere. If Kelly was going to make that pledge, he would have done so in his Senate confirmation hearing in January. He had multiple opportunities to curry favor with such a promise; in fact, both Claire McCaskill and Kamala Harris asked specifically about his intentions regarding DACA. Kelly did not respond specifically to McCaskill on DACA but did so with Harris twice, neither time pledging to protect DREAMers but to be part of the discussion on the formulation of policies:
KELLY: The entire development of immigration policy is ongoing right now in terms of the upcoming administration. I have not been involved in those discussions. If confirmed, I think I know I will be involved in those discussions. I think there are — there is a wide — there is a big spectrum of people who need to be dealt with in terms of deportation…
HARRIS: I am speaking specifically of DACA…
KELLY: And those categories would be prioritized. I would guess, I am not part of the process right now, I would guess that this category might not be the highest priority for removal. I promise you, Senator that I will be involved in the discussion. …
HARRIS: I am interested in knowing from your perspective where the students and the young people who applied and were eligible for DACA, where they would fall on your list of priorities in terms of the limited law enforcement resources that you have or would have if confirmed.
KELLY: I think law abiding individuals would in my mind with limited assets to execute the law would probably not be at the top of the list.
If Kelly was handing out guarantees, he would have done so in these exchanges. The closest he came was to say that pursuing former DACA recipients would be a low priority, which is … pretty much what they are now, too, and will be for long past the six months left for their deferrals.
So which is telling the truth? The man who wore the uniform for forty-six years and had a son die in combat, or the publicity-hound Congressman who likes seeing his name in the papers? Hmmmmm. I’d guess that Gutierrez is lying through his teeth and slandering a man who’s sacrificed more for this country in a day than Gutierrez has in his camera-hog life. Someone’s certainly a disgrace in this scenario, but it ain’t Kelly.
Here’s Lindsey Graham telling Hugh Hewitt that Gutierrez’ remarks were “deplorable,” and that he’d be better served by focusing on solutions. “The slander against General Kelly,” Graham declares, “says more about Mr. Gutierrez than it does General Kelly.” Indeed. So when will Democrats reprimand Gutierrez for his remarks? Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.