SOURCE: LA Times
Without a guarantee that people brought to the country illegally as children won't be deported, California Sen. Kamala Harris said Thursday that she will not support John Kelly, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Homeland Security Department.
“I am very concerned that Gen. Kelly has not been able to commit to me that he will honor the promise we made to those kids,” she told The Times.
Kelly is expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate. Harris was the first member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to announce opposition to the retired Marine general.
Harris' questions about what would happen to people given temporary deportation relief through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were some of the sharpest Kelly faced during his confirmation hearing last week. She pressed Kelly on whether the personal information provided by program participants would be to used identify candidates for deportation.
California is home to an estimated one-third of the 750,000 young people brought to the country illegally as children who applied for the program. They were promised by the Obama administration that if they went through the rigorous background check, they would not be deported.
In the hearing, Harris asked Kelly to honor that promise not to use DACA applications to assist in deportations.
Kelly said convicted criminals and other categories of immigrants in the U.S. illegally might be a higher priority, but he acknowledged he had not had discussions with Trump’s advisors about immigration policy.
“There’s a big spectrum of people who need to be dealt with in terms of deportation,” he said at the hearing. “I would guess that [DACA applicants] might not be the highest priority."
California's members of Congress have pleaded with the Obama administration to keep the participants' personal information from being used by the incoming Trump administration, which has pledged to crack down on immigration as soon as Trump takes office.
“I can’t look these kids in the face and offer them any guarantee that this guy won’t deport them, and without that guarantee I can’t support him,” Harris said Thursday. “For ethical and moral reasons, we have to honor our promise, the promise made by the United States government to these kids.”