Homeland chief denies US building deportation force

J. Scott Applewhite

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that marijuana is not a "factor in the drug war" and that the solution is "not arresting a lot of users".

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.

The attorney general also issued a memo Tuesday calling on federal attorneys to consider prosecuting anyone who harbors illegal immigrants, prioritizing those who protect violent offenders or are involved in transporting or protecting three or more people living in the US illegally.

"The trafficker's biggest problem is not getting drugs, till now, into the United States - the biggest problem they had was laundering the money".

"Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war", Kelly said.

"It's very complicated", Kelly said of the range of undocumented immigrants.

TODD: You say it's on Congress, but there are others who say if you enforce the law on the books. "I get nearly no interest from the last administration, as much as I railed about it - to just start the process of getting after this drug demand", he said. Shortly after he said: "It's three things". Methamphetamine. Almost all produced in Mexico.

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Together, meth, cocaine, heroin and other opiates resulted in the deaths of some 52,000 Americans in 2015, Kelly said.

Kelly was asked by Todd how federal marijuana legalization would affect drug arrests in the U.S. Medical marijuana is already legal in 28 states, while in eight states plus Washington, D.C., marijuana is legal for recreational use. "And cocaine that comes up from further south".

Kelly made his claim Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" during a discussion about the government's efforts to stem the influx of illegal drugs into the United States.

But "the solution is not arresting a lot of users", the secretary added.

Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security committee released a report estimating that Trump's proposed border wall could cost $70 billion to build. Kelly has estimated its price tag at $21 billion, while congressional Republicans have put the cost at $12 billion to $15 billion. About a quarter of those arrests were immigrants who had no criminal history, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store", he said in March.

Pressed to elaborate on who wouldn't have faced deportation before but would now, Kelly said, "someone, as an example, with multiple DUIs".

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