June 06, 2017

Senator Harris Questions DHS Sec. Kelly on Trump’s Budget That Prioritizes Deportations Over Public Safety

HD Video: https://s3.amazonaws.com/sdmc-media.senate.gov/HARRIS/888602_0002+(1).mp4

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, questioned DHS Secretary John Kelly on President Trump's FY2018 at a hearing. Trump's budget creates a strain on local law enforcement and states by threatening to withhold federal funds through grant programs if they are not compliant with ICE. Under President Trump, ICE has increasingly targeted individuals with little to no criminal history, furthering the President's mass deportation pledge made during the campaign.

Pressing Kelly on Trump's budget, Harris asked, "Specifically, the budget authorizes the Secretary to condition grants on compliance with "any lawful request" by DHS to detain an alien for a period not to exceed 48 hours. Are you familiar with that?"

Harris cited DHS grant programs that California benefits from including the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) that provided the state with $124.7 million to help urban areas prevent, mitigate and respond to acts of terrorism last year, and the State Homeland Security Grant Program that provided $60.2 million last year to support state, local and tribal efforts to prevent terrorism and other catastrophic events. Trump's budget forces states and localities to choose between violating the constitutional rights of detainees and incurring civil liability or losing critical sources of funding for programs such as these.

Key excerpt from Harris' questioning can be found below:

Sen Harris: In order, then, to comply with a 48-hour ICE detainer made with no probable cause, wouldn't that force the jurisdiction to choose whether to comply with the federal court ruling or forfeit vital public safety funds that are administered by your department?

Sec. Kelly: I'm not a lawyer but I think that federal law is federal law and state law is state law and if we have a different view of the impact of some of the state rulings -

Sen Harris: Well imagine sir, if you will, that you were a local law enforcement leader presented with a choice of either complying with federal law that means that you may expose your department and your jurisdiction to civil liability, or forfeiting DHS funds that are designed and intended to help you fight terrorism at a local level. Wouldn't you agree that puts those law enforcement leaders - it's almost a Hobson's choice -

Sec Kelly: Well, Senator -

Sen Harris: How are they supposed to choose?

Sec Kelly: Had you not cut me off, I would have said the same thing you just said, probably not as eloquently, but I'd have said the same thing you said. I appreciate the fix they're in. I appreciate that they get their legal advice from the state and locals. And below the radar, we work with every police and sheriff department in this country to the degree that they can and are comfortable with.