Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly delicately recommends critics of immigration enforcement 'shut up'

John Kelly.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told anyone who dislikes the way his department is handling immigration to change the law themselves or "shut up," Politico reports.

Under President Trump, arrests of immigrants with clean police records who are living in the United States illegally have more than doubled. The DHS has even floated mobilizing up to 100,000 National Guard troops in an effort to capture unauthorized immigrants. Kelly's harsh remarks were made at George Washington University, where Kelly expressed frustration that "if lawmakers do not like the laws that we enforce, that we are charged to enforce, that we are sworn to enforce, then they should have the courage and the skill to change those laws."

Kelly added: "Otherwise, they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines … My people, the men and women of this department, do a difficult and, at times, nearly impossible job and a service to the American people. They deserve our nation's thanks and respect. They deserve to be proud of the jobs that they do."

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During his campaign, Trump proposed deporting the 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States, at one point floating the vague idea of a "special deportation task force." "I can't even begin to picture how we would deport 11 million people in a few years where we don't have a police state, where the police can't break down your door at will and take you away without a warrant," former President George W. Bush's secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, told The New York Times last year.

But Kelly argued: "Fewer people ... crossing the border illegally means fewer deaths in the desert, fewer people, as I say, submitting themselves to that terrible, terrible network experience. There is nothing more — and I know I speak for the attorney general — nothing more that we would like to do than put these human smugglers out of business, and we'll do anything, our departments, to do just that within the law."

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