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Latino Dems grow frustrated with Kelly amid 'Dreamers' debate: report

Latino Dems grow frustrated with Kelly amid 'Dreamers' debate: report
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Many Democratic members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus appear to be growing frustrated with White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE amid the country's ongoing debate over immigration, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

“We all thought, we hoped we were going to get somebody who was going to be reasonable, rational, looking at the facts,” California Rep. Nanette Barragán (D) told the newspaper, adding that over time “we’ve seen more and more come out about who he really is.”

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The Latino group had initially hoped Kelly would be someone in the Trump administration they could count on to work with on immigration policy, especially regarding "Dreamers," undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

But over time, many expressed disappointment, saying he is no different from other top Trump officials who want to pass harsh immigration crackdowns, the Post reported.

“We want to trust him, we want to believe he’s a partner, but time and time again, he’s got a particular mind-set and he’s not willing to be open-minded, listen to our concerns and address them,” Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said, according to the report.

“That’s frustrating — we’re members of Congress, this affects our constituents deeply and we’re a coequal branch of government.”

Any goodwill between the two parties reportedly began to disappear earlier this year when Latino Democrats described Kelly, the then-secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), as patronizing or unwilling to budge on certain issues.

“A four-star general doesn’t have very many people who are going to challenge him,” Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroSteve King: Julian and Joaquin Castro learned Spanish to ‘qualify as retroactive Hispanics’ Hispanic Dems want answers on detention of immigrant minors Cook Political Report moves Texas Senate race to ‘toss-up’ MORE (D-Texas) told the Post. “You could tell it was unusual for him to be challenged by people.”

Other events continued to fan the tensions between Kelly and the caucus members, including a joint appearance with House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Adelsons donated M in September to help GOP in midterms MORE (R-Wis.) in June, in which he endorsed a measure that would slap penalties on “sanctuary cities" that refuse to cooperate on enforcing federal immigration laws, according to the report.

Many caucus members indicated to the Post that they are frustrated Kelly has not been willing to support a bipartisan bill to protect Dreamers.

“Kelly had told us that he was the best friend and best protection that Dreamers have,” Sánchez told the Post, a statement echoed by other caucus members who had spoken to Kelly about the issue. 

Many Democrats, including caucus members, want to block support for a spending bill next month and risk shutting down the government unless Hill lawmakers can reach a deal about the status of Dreamers.

Kelly, likely a key player in the upcoming year-end immigration fight, declined the Post's request for comment about the flared tensions. Multiple aides in the administration, however, defended his actions.

“During his time at DHS, Secretary Kelly was not shy about defending the honorable women and men of the Department of Homeland Security — who every day enforce the laws Congress has adopted — against invalid and politically driven criticism,” Jonathan Hoffman, DHS assistant secretary for public affairs, told the newspaper in an email.

The report comes after the Post also reported earlier this month that Kelly pressured acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke to cancel the immigration status of 60,000 Hondurans, which she did not do.