Kelly has simple message to critics: change law or shut up

Before joining the Trump administration, Kelly served as the head of U.S. Southern Command, overseeing security operations for Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Kelly said drug traffickers struggled to launder their profits from the drug trade, not smuggle it into the U.S. He cited drug cartels' influence, through violence, over their governments in Latin American countries as a forefront issue, arguing that corruption leads to smuggled goods in the U.S.

SEC. JOHN KELLY: Drug consumption in the United States is the problem.

"It is a potentially unsafe gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs", Kelly said, adding: "Its use and possession is against federal law and until the law is changed by the U.S. Congress we in DHS are sworn to uphold all the laws on the books".

When asked whether Trump's harsh comments and measures were responsible for a reported drop in attempted border crossings, Kelly said, "Absolutely".

The blunt-talking, retired Marine general defended the work of Homeland Security employees from immigration agents to airport security officers, saying they are unjustifiably maligned by critics as they enforce laws meant to keep America safe.

John Kelly said today there is a "unity of effort" within the Department of Homeland Security to streamline its cybersecurity functions, stressing the pervasiveness of cyber threats to the United States. "Just start the process of getting after this drug demand". Shortly after he said: "It's three things".

In a wide-ranging speech, Kelly also promised a border crackdown on marijuana, which is illegal under federal law but legal under state law in eight states and the District of Columbia. Nearly all produced in Mexico.

Together, meth, cocaine, heroin and other opiates resulted in the deaths of some 52,000 Americans in 2015, Kelly said. "And cocaine that comes up from further south".

Kelly said the solution to the drug war "is not arresting a lot of users". A recent Washington Post analysis found that the ICE agency arrested 21,362 immigrants between January through mid-March, among whom 5,441 immigrants with no criminal records were also arrested. The new administration's plans remain unclear, although Trump has suggested he wants to find a solution that could let them stay. "There are a huge number, as you know, of illegal aliens or undocumented individuals that have to be dealt with in one way or another", Kelly said. Beyond that, however, its use and possession is against federal law and until the law is changed by the U.S. Congress we in DHS are sworn to uphold all the laws on the books.

  • Eleanor Harrison