Previous Overseer of Guantanamo Bay Intends to Stop Illegal Immigration
By: Haziq Naeem
On July 28th, President Donald Trump replaced his then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus with Homeland Security secretary John Kelly.
John Kelly, like President Trump, believes in strict immigration and border controls, viewing the southern border as a potential threat to the security of the country. Like Trump, he also brings in limited political expertise and experience and a brief understanding of the many domestic issues that Trump will be facing.
Kelly was born in Boston, Massachusetts and enlisted in the United States Marine Corp in 1970. He served for over forty years and retired as a four-star marine general. His service includes multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He is the highest ranking military officer to lose a child in Iraq or Afghanistan. His extensive military service and knowledge, along with his intimate experience with the costs of war makes him a valuable asset on Trump’s team. Kelly has also assured senators of his moderating influence on many of Trump’s extreme positions.
John Kelly was in charge of the US Southern Command for four years before retiring in February of 2016 from the post, which entailed overseeing military operations in the Caribbean and south and central America.
During this time, Kelly was also responsible for the oversight of Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and facilitated the prisoner exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
He was often at odds with former President Barack Obama on his position to close Guantanamo Bay prison and its use as a recruiting tool by extremists. A startling example of their diverging views on the issue was when Kelly sought funds of up to 200 million dollars for various uses at the prison at a time when former President Obama was saying that the prison would be closed.
He also did not see force feeding prisoners through a tube, a process that is very painful and garnered international attention, on a hunger strike at the prison as inhumane or extreme treatment. In response to the news coverage at Guantanamo, Kelly enforced a press blackout.
Kelly also expressed concern with the Obama administration’s decision to open combat roles to women, stating that this would lead to a decrease in military standards in order for women to be accepted into military roles.
Initially, Trump appointed Kelly to be the secretary of Homeland Security, stating that he would “spearhead the urgent mission of stopping illegal immigration and securing our borders.”
According to the Homeland Security website, the responsibilities of the organization are:
“counterterrorism, cybersecurity, aviation security, border security, port security, maritime security, administration and enforcement of our immigration laws, protection of our national leaders, protection of critical infrastructure, detection of and protection against chemical, biological and nuclear threats to the homeland, and response to disasters.”
While secretary of Homeland Security, Kelly expanded the category of immigrants being targeted for deportation, floated the idea of separating mothers and their children at the border to discourage further illegal immigration and threatened ending the DREAM act.
This would get rid of protections put in place for children that were brought over the border illegally with their parents. Under Kelly’s short tenure as secretary of Homeland Security, arrests of immigrants rose forty percent which earned him praise from President Trump in a tweet.
Once Kelly was chosen by Trump to be his new Chief of Staff, his first act was to fire Anthony Scaramucci who had spent less than two weeks as the White House communications director.
Although the Chief of Staff serves at the pleasure of the President and does not require confirmation from congress, it does entail a significant amount of power, as demonstrated by the firing of Mr. Scaramucci.
It remains to be seen what role Kelly plays as part of Trump’s administration, but so far, with the ending of the DREAM act, Trump’s goals seem like they will not change.