Report: John Kelly Pressured Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke To Deport Honduran Refugees

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For the past 27 years, every 18 months, thousands of Honduran families who came to the U.S. as refugees have waited on word that their residency permits will remain active. For decades, there was little worry that they would be declined, as their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) had become fairly routine. This year, however, the usual decision was reportedly delayed (according to the Washington Post) when John Kelly called Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke from Japan to pressure her over Hondurans, as well as other Central American refugees who have built their lives in the U.S.

Temporary Protected Status was developed in the late 1990s after Hurricane Mitch struck Central America. The rationale then was that Central American refugees couldn’t be sent home to a country too wrecked to support them, and their stay slowly extended up until today. And while Cher Horowitz famously advocated for making room for the Haitians in 1995’s Clueless, that sentiment is at odds with the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.

As with the Dream Act, however, the basis of the Trump administration’s hard-line focus on immigration is ostensibly a concern with whether TPS is being fairly implemented. John Kelly’s point is that the word temporary is baked into the whole TPS setup, and it was never intended as a full on immigration program. Duke did announce Monday that by January 2019 Nicaraguan refugees will have to make alternate arrangements — either returning to their country of origin or seeking permanent U.S. residency.

However, Honduras hasn’t made the same progress Nicaragua has in recent years, and she wasn’t sure if a similar decision would make sense for the Hondurans and other refugee groups. That hesitation rubbed John Kelly the wrong way. His current deputy and top pick for DHS Secretary, Kirstjen M. Nielsen, went through her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, and Kelly was concerned that Duke would complicate Nielsen’s vetting. He reportedly and furiously called Duke from Japan, where he was visiting with Trump and pressured her to make a firm decision on the Hondurans.

Those families may face deportation, much like the beneficiaries of the Dream Act who were also lulled into a sense of security by more lenient presidential administrations and suddenly find themselves in a precarious place.

(Via Washington Post)