Homeland Security chief tempers Trump illegal immigration promises

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By Julia Edwards Ainsley | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON Homeland Security Secretary John
Kelly tempered some of President Donald Trump’s recent promises
on curbing illegal immigration before a congressional panel on
Tuesday, explaining that funding to cities that refuse to
cooperate with immigration agents would only be cut on a
case-by-case basis.

Trump has threatened to cut large swaths of federal funding
to about 300 so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ in order to pressure
them to cooperate in the apprehension and deportation of illegal
immigrants.

“If we are specifically giving grants for cooperation on the
removal of illegal aliens and the department or city is no
longer doing that, it seems irresponsible to me to continue
giving them the money, but it will be case by case,” Kelly told
the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security.

Trump’s executive order on Jan. 25 protected police from
funding cuts but left programs like education and healthcare on
the table.

Kelly also said he did not expect to meet Trump’s hiring
goals of 5,000 additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection
agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents
within two years. Trump did not specify a timeline when he
called for the hiring in his executive action on Jan. 25.

Kelly said he would not “skip on training and standards” to
speed up the pace of hiring.

Lawmakers grilled Kelly over the controversial immigration
ban on refugees and visa holders from seven countries, which is
temporarily on hold by a court order.

Kelly defended the order, claiming that the seven countries
were known to have inadequate systems for sharing information
with the United States on their potentially dangerous citizens.

Reports circulated last week that twelve countries could be
added to the travel ban were false, Kelly said, adding that no
additional countries were being considered for the temporary
travel ban.

Kelly also said that the wall Trump has called for building
on the U.S.-Mexico border may include fence and may not cover
the whole border. He said he expected to be “well under way” in
the construction of some kind of physical barrier along parts of
the border within two years.

Kelly previously told Fox News he expected the barrier to be
finished within two years.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley, additional reporting by
Andy Sullivan)



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