Homeland Security Secretary touts immigration bills

Homeland Security Secretary touts immigration bills
© Getty

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly praised two immigration bills up for a House vote Thursday and called out Democrats who oppose the bills and his immigration enforcement methods.

Kelly said the two bills, Kate's Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, will help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents uphold existing immigration laws.

ADVERTISEMENT

He spoke briefly at Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE's (R-Wis.) weekly press conference and left without taking questions from reporters.

Kelly offered harsh criticism for Democrats who have accused him of pursuing an anti-immigrant agenda.

"I am offended when members of this institution pressure and often threaten me and my officers to ignore the laws they make and I am sworn to uphold," Kelly said.

The immigration bills are expected to pass the House comfortably but will face a 60-vote threshold if they are considered in the Senate.

"I look forward to passage of these bills and then we'll turn to our friends in the United States Senate, where these bills should be passed promptly," said Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling MORE (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, where both bills originated.

Kate's Law, named in honor of Kate Steinle, who was allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco in 2015, would stiffen penalties for criminals who attempt to illegally re-enter the country.

The law's critics say the language fails to adequately distinguish between criminals and otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants or asylum seekers who attempt to enter the United States.

The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act punishes so-called sanctuary cities — jurisdictions that refuse full cooperation with federal authorities on immigration enforcement — by restricting federal funds to those jurisdictions.

Ryan said the bills would help DHS immigration enforcement agencies more effectively accomplish their mission.

"Our job is to make sure that those professionals have the tools that they need and the resources that they need to carry out their work and protect our communities, that is what these measures are all about," he said.

The bills were pulled from a larger Republican immigration proposal, the Davis-Oliver Act, which Democrats have called an "anti-immigrant" measure.

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), the newly appointed chairman of the Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, said he is looking forward to bringing the full Davis-Oliver Act to the House floor.

"To me the most ironic thing about this whole debate is that most of the people who've come to the United States illegally come here because they're fleeing countries where the law is not enforced," he said.

"And yet some people on the other side want to turn this country into the countries that they're fleeing from," said Labrador.