As the nation grapples over immigration policy, Latinx lawmakers are growing increasingly impatient with White House chief of staff John Kelly. The Hill reports that Democratic members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were disappointed in Kelly’s stance regarding immigration, particularly concerning the “Dreamers,” or recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
“We all thought, we hoped we were going to get somebody who was going to be reasonable, rational, looking at the facts,” Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA) said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We’ve seen more and more come out about who he really is.”
The issue came to light when Trump announced his termination of DACA, which protects undocumented youth and adults who entered the U.S. as minors. While most people spend 45% of their communication listening, many members of Congress have not listened to the concerns of Dreamers and their supporters. This is especially shocking to the caucus, as Kelly had originally pledged his support.
Initially, the caucus thought that Kelly would be an important member of the Trump administration, perhaps working with them on progressive immigration reform. But according to The Hill, the opposite proved to be true. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) told The Washington Post that Kelly had told the caucus that he would protect the Dreamers, but ultimately aligned with the rest of the administration’s actions.
“We want to trust him, we want to believe he’s a partner, but time and time again, he’s got a particular mind-set and he’s not willing to be open-minded, listen to our concerns and address them,” she said.
Barragán told The Washington Post that the caucus had proposed two bills that would protect the Dreamers. In a meeting regarding the bill, Kelly said that the Dreamers were “good kids,” and when asked if he would support the bills he said, “I’m unaware of any such legislation.”
In response to these allegations, DHS assistant secretary for public affairs, Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement to The Washington Post that Kelly’s priorities lie with the department.
“During his time at DHS, Secretary Kelly was not shy about defending the honorable women and men of the Department of Homeland Security — who every day enforce the laws Congress has adopted — against invalid and politically driven criticism,” he said.
But for Latinx Democrats and other lawmakers, his alliance is not in the right place.
“Every single day that goes by, you increase the risk to the community that deserves our absolute energy and attention,” Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), chair of the Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “You’ll see revised intensity to get a vote in the next couple of weeks.”