Gutiérrez Lashes Out After DACA Move: John Kelly Is ‘A Disgrace To The Uniform’

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
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Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) on Tuesday called White House Chief of Staff John Kelly a “hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear” after President Donald Trump ended the DACA program earlier in the day.

DACA, short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, protects nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Though the White House claimed Tuesday that DACA recipients will not be priorities for deportation once their permits expire, similar promises have not been reflected in the past in immigration agents’ arrest records.

Before accepting Trump’s offer to become chief of staff, Kelly led the Department of Homeland Security, where he oversaw the Trump administration’s amped-up efforts to arrest and deport undocumented people, including those found only to have violated civil immigration law.

“General Kelly, when he was the head of Homeland Security, lied straight to the faces of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus about preventing the mass deportation of DREAMers,” Gutiérrez wrote in a statement Tuesday. “Now as Chief of Staff, this former general is executing the plan to take away their lifeline and taking steps to criminalize young people who live and work here legally.”

“General Kelly is a hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear,” he continued. “He has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House along with the white supremacists and those enabling the President’s actions by ‘just following orders.’”

Gutiérrez also said he would not support any government funding bill that doesn’t include “safe harbor for DREAMers,” using a shorthand for young undocumented people that began with the DREAM Act, an immigration reform bill first proposed in 2001.

The congressman was one of a number of people arrested at a pro-DACA rally in front of the White House on Aug. 15.

Read Gutiérrez full statement below:

I personally will not support any funding bill that does not include a safe harbor for DREAMers – and I will work to have others join me in opposition.  If they need our votes, we are bringing 800,000 young immigrants with us.

I have already spoken with Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and will be talking to other Democrats in the House, but if Republicans need our votes, we need to have legislation to protect immigrant youth who have DACA.

As a movement, we will not go away, back down or give up because the President has taken this callous and destructive action.  The CHC, other Democrats, and the pro-immigrant movement fought hard against a Democratic President to win DACA and I am confident my CHC and Democratic colleagues will fight a Republican President even harder to defend DACA, in the courts, through legislation, and community by community and deportation by deportation, if necessary.

Immigrant youth, immigrant families, and our allies in all sectors of American life are here to stay, regardless of the President’s mass deportation fantasies and objectives.  Americans will not let this President dictate the fate of the immigrants who have placed so much trust in their country.  We have stood at airports to resist the Muslim Ban, marched with women to protect their rights, denounced  racist and homophobic violence, and fought to defend Planned Parenthood and now young immigrants need everyone’s help.  I watched families line up by the tens of thousands at Navy Pier in Chicago in August 2012 just for the opportunity for one or two of their children to achieve safety and security in America.  I am not prepared to give up on them and will not.

America is a better country than its President and most Americans do not want to see documented immigrants converted into undocumented immigrants.  It just takes the country in the wrong direction and will be devastating to individual immigrants and families.  The disruption, chaos and fear that this action precipitates will also strain state and local governments, educators, and employers.  DACA is a program that has been a smashing success, yet the President, purely out of spite and incompetence is smashing DACA.

General Kelly, when he was the head of Homeland Security, lied straight to the faces of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus about preventing the mass deportation of DREAMers.  Now as Chief of Staff, this former general is executing the plan to take away their lifeline and taking steps to criminalize young people who live and work here legally.  General Kelly is a hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear.  He has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House along with the white supremacists and those enabling the President’s actions by ‘just following orders.’

This Administration is on a very dangerous trajectory towards the full-throated endorsement of white supremacy—the likes of which we haven’t seen in the open from a sitting President for a century.  President Trump followed up his weak and insincere response to racist violence in Charlottesville by pardoning notorious convicted racist Joe Arpaio and condoning Arpaio’s abuse of official power in defiance of federal law and court orders.  Trump praises those who marched at the University of Virginia with torches shouting ‘Jews will not replace us,’ and launched his campaign for the White House by saying Mexican immigrants are rapists and murderers.  But this action on DACA to pull the rug out from under almost 800,000 documented immigrants who have lived here for at least ten years and cast them back into the shadows is the ugliest act of appeasement for the far-right’s white-supremacist goals of them all, so far.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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