DHS Chief ‘Not Surprised’ Protesters Would Not Let Him Speak At Immigration Conference

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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  • Acting Secretary of Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan appeared on Fox News to discuss progress on the border crisis and the liberal activists who refused to let him speak at a conference. 
  • McAleenan was slated to be the keynote speaker at a Georgetown immigration conference Monday, but activists with CREDO Action shouted him out every time he attempted to speak. 
  • Apprehensions at the southern border have dramatically fallen since its peak in May, with migrant family units decreasing by 80%.  

In his first television appearance since protesters shouted him off stage at an immigration conference, acting Secretary of Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan said he was disappointed, but not surprised, by what took place.

McAleenan on Monday was supposed to be the keynote speaker at the Georgetown University Immigration Law and Policy Conference, participate in a panel discussion with several other immigration experts, and then answer questions from the audience. However, he never got a chance to speak. Protesters shouted him down every time he tried to talk, and after several attempts, McAleenan opted to leave.

“Not surprised, but it’s actually disappointing because, you know, part of the irony here this was supposed to be a group of immigration law experts who wanted to hear the facts of what’s happening on the border, the facts of what’s broken about our immigration system,” McAleenan said Wednesday morning on “Fox & Friends.”

“I was going to challenge them on how we could talk and start a dialogue about how to fix it, but apparently didn’t get that opportunity,” he continued.

McAleenan’s appearance at the Georgetown event was an outreach to progressive immigration officials. The conference was organized in part by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, a major critic of Trump’s immigration agenda, and was moderated by Doris Meissner, a former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service under the Clinton administration.

Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan attends the Migration Policy Institute annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference

Protesters interrupt remarks by Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAleenan at the Migration Policy Institute annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The protesters — who were affiliated with CREDO Action, a progressive organization — chanted “When immigrants are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” every time McAleenan tried to deliver his speech. They also brandished a sign that read “HATE IS NOT NORMAL.”

“I gave them eight minutes and when it was clear that Georgetown Law Center was not going to change that direction of that dialogue, it was time to go,” McAleenan said on “Fox & Friends.” The DHS chief, who was tapped by Trump to lead the department in April, said he will continue to make progress on the border crisis.

Mark Morgan, the acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, broke down the latest apprehension numbers in a White House speech Tuesday. Nearly one million “enforcement actions” took place at the southern border throughout the entirety of fiscal year 2019, which ended on Sept. 30. Recent arrests, however, have dramatically declined, indicating that the crisis is beginning to wane.

Total law enforcement actions on the border totaled just over 52,000 in September. This number is a 65% drop from 144,000 apprehensions and other actions that took place in May, when the crisis reached a peak. September marked the fourth month in a row where border apprehensions declined. (RELATED: The Trump Administration Wants 450 Miles Of Border Wall By 2020)

“We’re making tremendous progress on all fronts on this agenda,” McAleenan said. “The number one change has been the partnerships we’ve been able to establish with Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to stop the human smuggling.”

“We have been able to reduce families for over 80% crossing illegally on our southern border. So that’s been a dramatic success from our international partnerships, from the policies we put in place on the border to ensure that those that don’t have an asylum claim are swiftly repatriated.”

Minutes after speaking on “Fox & Friends,” McAleenan made similar comments during an appearance on  Fox Business’s “Varney & Co.”


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