White House Pressed Unsuccessfully to End Immigration Program


A White House official mentioned that Mr. Kelly had inspired Ms. Duke to decide however didn’t strain her to finish this system.

But two different individuals briefed on the change mentioned Ms. Duke had knowledgeable the White House over the weekend of her determination to postpone ending this system for Hondurans. Soon afterward, the 2 individuals mentioned, Mr. Kelly known as Ms. Duke from Asia, the place he was touring with Mr. Trump, to inform her she had made the improper determination and to rethink.


Ms. Duke’s determination to delay a closing name on Honduran immigrants got here after an inside division overview.

Al Drago for The New York Times

Mr. Kelly’s message to Ms. Duke was that she wanted to reverse course and finish this system instantly, in keeping with one of many individuals briefed on the decision, who, just like the others, requested for anonymity to explain a personal dialogue.

Mr. Kelly raised not one of the points about situations in Honduras, the individual mentioned. Mr. Kelly’s focus was on a clean affirmation course of for Mr. Trump’s choose to run the division, Kirstjen M. Nielsen, and avoiding any steps that might jeopardize the administration’s immigration insurance policies.

A Homeland Security spokesman denied that account.

“It is perfectly normal for members of the White House team to weigh in on major decisions,” Tyler Q. Houlton, the spokesman, mentioned on Thursday.

And the White House official mentioned that neither Ms. Nielsen’s title nor the topic of her affirmation listening to got here up throughout Mr. Kelly’s name with Ms. Duke.

Ms. Duke additionally not too long ago resisted White House strain to put in writing a letter endorsing Ms. Nielsen, one of many individuals mentioned. Ms. Nielsen labored for Mr. Kelly when he was Mr. Trump’s first Homeland Security secretary, and adopted him to the White House when he was named chief of workers in July.

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The Washington Post first reported that the White House pressured Ms. Duke to finish the protected standing for tens of 1000’s of Honduran immigrants dwelling within the United States.

In their discussions on Monday, Ms. Duke, who was Mr. Trump’s alternative in January to be deputy homeland safety secretary, additionally advised Mr. Kelly she would resign from the division as soon as Ms. Nielsen was confirmed, two of the individuals accustomed to the calls mentioned. The Senate Homeland Security committee held a affirmation listening to for Ms. Nielsen on Wednesday however has delayed its vote on her nomination whereas senators search extra data from her, a Senate aide mentioned.

The immigration program, often known as Temporary Protected Status, was enacted by Congress in 1990 to guard foreigners, significantly Central Americans, fleeing warfare, pure disasters or catastrophes and was prolonged to Haitians after the 2010 earthquake. About 300,000 individuals are enrolled.

The Trump administration must make related choices about Haitian immigrants later this month and El Salvadorans in March. The Nicaraguans who had been protected underneath this system have till January 2019 to depart the United States.

In a information launch on Monday evening, Ms. Duke mentioned that regardless of getting data from quite a few completely different sources relating to Honduras, she wanted further time to find out if floor situations within the nation warranted sending individuals again. She prolonged the short-term protecting standing for Hondurans till July 5, 2018.

A memo written by the division’s Office of International Affairs division urged extending the short-term protecting standing for an additional 18 months, saying it made no sense to ship residents of Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador who had been lined again to their international locations of origin.

The memo urged that economies in these international locations had been nonetheless incapable of making adequate job alternatives for his or her younger and rising populations and couldn’t deal with an inflow of 1000’s of returning individuals.

“We are still years away from a Central America in which people see their futures at home and not in the United States,” the memo learn, in keeping with individuals who noticed the doc.

Overall, the choice to finish this system acquired pushback from different officers on the division, Homeland Security staff mentioned.

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In response to questions on strain to finish this system, they mentioned, White House officers and Mr. Kelly had been making the argument to Ms. Duke that situations had improved sufficient in Honduras to permit the protected immigrants to return dwelling.

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