WASHINGTON — Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly made clear on Tuesday that he sees marijuana as a serious drug — and promised to use it as a reason to deport undocumented immigrants.
"Let me be clear about marijuana. It is a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs," he said during a Tuesday speech at George Washington University. "Its use and possession is against federal law and until that law is changed by the United States Congress we at DHS along with the rest of the federal government are sworn to uphold all the laws that are on the books."
Kelly's hard line on pot echoes other Trump administration officials, who have made clear that they have no interest in following the Obama administration's efforts to de-emphasize pot and focus on other harder drugs. Kelly also signaled that as DHS ramps up efforts for sweeping deportations of undocumented immigrants who hadn't committed serious crimes that Obama mostly left alone, Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents will use pot as a reason to send people out of the country.
"ICE will continue to use marijuana possession, distribution and convictions as essential elements as they build their deportation removal apprehension packages for targeted operations against illegal aliens living in the United States. They have done this in the past, are doing it today, and will do it in the future," he said.
The retired general said that the morale of DHS employees has been low for years because of the Obama administration — and made it clear that he has no interest in listening to lawmakers' complaints about how he's doing his job, after a series of confrontational meetings with the Hispanic Congressional Caucus and others who have raised alarm bells about DHS's major increase in detentions and deportations since Trump's win.
"If lawmakers do not like the laws they've passed and we are charged to enforce, then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws. Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines," he said to applause from the law-and-order crowd.