White House CoS Pressured Acting Secretary Duke to Terminate TPS for Hondurans; Acting Secretary Duke “angered by what she felt was a politically driven intrusion”
Raises serious questions about the independence of Kelly’s deputy and protege, Kirstjen Nielsen, nominee for DHS Secretary
Today, policy experts and advocates gathered on a call to discussbreaking news that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly pressured Acting Secretary Elaine Duke to revoke Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for tens of thousands of Hondurans living in the United States. With the DHS decisions on Haiti (11/23/17) and El Salvador (1/08/18) quickly approaching, this development raises concerns surrounding the nominee for Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen M. Nielsen.
For a full recording of this afternoon’s call, please email Liz@npstrategygroup.com.
Tom Jawetz, Vice President of Immigration Policy, Center for American Progress, said:
On Monday, Kelly tried to strong arm Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke into ending Temporary Protected Status for 57,000 Hondurans for political reasons—namely, to grease the wheels for his personal pick to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen, who we’re told possesses ‘unwavering loyalty’ to Kelly. In the case of Hondurans, who have lived and worked in the United States lawfully for nearly 19 years, Acting Secretary Duke decided that she needed additional time to consider all of the evidence before making a final decision, but with the deadlines for the Department of Homeland Security’s decisions on Haiti and El Salvador fast approaching, how can we be assured that Nielsen will base her decision on the facts and the statute, not on political pressure from the White House?
Marleine Bastien, Executive Director, Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami, said:
Deporting 50,000+ families to Haiti would be unsafe and seriously destabilize the island nation. We also know if DHS ends TPS for Haiti, Trump will have completely contradicted his own assessment. When he came to Little Haiti a year ago before the election, Trump lamented over the fact that Haiti was still really suffering as a result of the earthquake and promised Haitians, whether they voted for him or not, he would be their best champion. Now, the upcoming decision on TPS for Haitians, which could come before Thanksgiving, could leave thousands of Haitian families in complete disarray. If Haitians are forced to go back, it will destroy families in the United States and will cut off remittances, which are a lifeline for so many families on the island.
Rachel Gumpert, National Press Secretary, UNITE HERE, said:
It is imperative that DHS is protected from political pressure and favor peddling from the White House as Acting Secretary Elaine Duke is making high-stakes assessments regarding Temporary Protective Status renewal for Honduras and other countries facing expiration. Today’s revelations that White House Chief of Staff Kelly inappropriately attempted to abuse his political power and influence DHS’s decision on Honduran TPS is a major violation of the agency’s independence, and calls for immediate emergency congressional review. The White House cannot continue to abuse it’s power and play politics with the lives of TPS recipients when the lives of 320,000 TPS holders hang in the balance.
Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director, America’s Voice Education Fund, said:
Given John Kelly’s inappropriate and irresponsible pressuring of acting DHS Secretary Kelly, all eyes are on his handpicked DHS Secretary nominee Kirstjen Nielsen. The upcoming decisions will affect hundreds of thousands of families, employers who rely on these essential workers, and neighboring countries who depend on remittances for survival. These critical decisions should be based on facts and the law, not on the undue political interference from the White House. At a minimum, the Senate must receive some assurances from Nielsen that she will follow the statutory requirements and not just the instructions of her mentor. Until Nielsen’s fealty to the law over politics is assured, she should not be confirmed as DHS Secretary.