February 7, 2017 U. S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that an executive order banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries is “lawful and constitutional.”
In his first appearance before the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday, John Kelly testified that in retrospect, he should have delayed the order’s rollout “just a bit” so that members of Congress could be prepared. Kelly testified that the executive order, which blocks travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the country, “will prevail [in court] and be able to take the steps necessary to protect our nation.”
During questioning, ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss), asked Kelly if any “bad people” have been let into the country after the executive order was halted. Secretary Kelly responded:
“Let’s just say, for instance, a person who is trying to get to the United States to do some harm, some terrorist attack, is coming in during this period that the courts put a stay on our enforcement. We won’t know that until an individual who’s a bad person, until they do something bad,” Kelly said. “But it’s entirely possible that someone that’s coming in, whether it’s during this stay court action or previous to this, they intend to do us harm.”
In a follow up question, Rep. Thompson asked Secretary Kelly if there was any proof the immigration ban had kept any bad guys from entering the country? Secretary Kelly responded, “not until the boom.”
On January 30, top committee Democrats, including Rep. Bernie Thompson demanded a emergency meeting with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to discuss President Trump’s controversial Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States banned immigrants from Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Syria from entering the country.
In the more than 16 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American soil, there has been much heated debate regarding efforts to balance freedom and national security. The White House argues that a temporary ban of seven predominantly Muslim countries will make the United states safer until a better plan can be implemented. International and national security experts argue the ban is profiling and will not keep Americans safer, as the top threat to the homeland are American born lone wolf terrorist sympathizers — already in the United States legally. All of the attacks carried out in the United States by radicalized individuals since 9/11 have been American born Jihadists.
Some national security experts agree with DHS Secretary Kelly, that preventing an attack or “the boom” is difficult if not impossible. Therefore, the focus of resources should be on the response, recovery and resilience of a community after an attack occurs.
Cynthia Hodges holds a M.A. in Political Science from NEIU in Chicago, Illinois and a Post-Grad Professional Certificate in Disaster and Terrorism Management from University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. In addition to a successful writing career, Cynthia is in the process of writing a book on the role of private security guards as first responders in the post 9/11 America. "My career has been a balance of security and education, and my passion for Homeland Security while protecting individual's Constitutional rights has grown as a result of the two."