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Department of Homeland Security Secretary says deporting Dreamers won't be a priority

DHS emphasized that Dreamers will only face deportation if they commit any crimes.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Credit: Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says the deportation of undocumented immigrants will not be a priority if the Trump administration fails to reach a deal to protect immigrants who receive benefits from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“It's not going to be a priority of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize their removal," Kirstjen Nielsen told “CBS This Morning” Tuesday morning. “I’ve said that before. That's not the policy of DHS,” she added.

Nielsen explained that immigrants who follow the law and are properly registered to DACA program should not be worried about having their benefits end or fear deportation. 

“If you are a DACA that's compliant with your registration, meaning you haven't committed a crime, you, in fact, are registered, you're not priority of enforcement for ICE should the program end," Nielsen said.

When asked if Dreamers’ status would remain a low priority for ICE, Nielsen confirmed that it would as long as they didn’t commit a crime.

Nielsen hopes that members of Congress can reach a deal and find a way for legislation to keep the program active.

During the interview Ms. Nielsen was also asked about the vulgar comments President Trump reportedly made about Haiti and parts of Africa, referring to them as “sh-thole” countries. Nielsen responded, “That’s not a word that I remember being used. There were a lot of conversations happening at the same time. It’s not a particular phrase that I heard," she added.

Nielsen later testified during a hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Tuesday in which she once again stated that she did not hear the president use the derogatory phrase when referring to Haiti and African nations.

The DACA program has granted protections for approximately 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants. The program was implemented by the Obama Administration in 2012. 

President Trump has emphasized that in order to maintain the DACA deal and to protect hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants, there still needs to be a border wall.

"It's got to include the wall. Any solution has to include the wall because without the wall it doesn't work," the president said at joint White House news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg last week.

Kirstjen Nielsen says DACA deportations will not be a priority