- The Washington Times - Monday, February 27, 2017

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Monday that he was personally assured by Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly that only illegal immigrants involved in a “criminal enterprise” will be deported from the U.S. under the Trump administration’s policies.

Mr. McAuliffe said Mr. Kelly “emphatically” assured him in a conversation on Sunday that only illegal immigrants who have been involved in a “criminal enterprise” would be deported.

“Secondly, he assured me that there will be no random [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] stops on the streets of the United States of America,” Mr. McAuliffe told reporters at a National Governors Association press conference.

SEE ALSO: Illegal immigration dropped 27 percent in January: Reports

“I was heartened to hear it,” said Mr. McAuliffe, a Democrat who chairs the NGA. “I want to know if that indeed is not the case that’s going on, but I do appreciate Secretary Kelly.”

“I said, ‘Can I leave this meeting … and say that there will be no deportations of any individuals in the United States of America unless they have been involved in a criminal enterprise?’ He said yes,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

“Can I walk out of this room and tell the press that we will not have any random stops by ICE agents? He said, ‘Yes, you can go say that,’” he said.

A Homeland Security Department spokeswoman said that as a matter of policy, the agency does not comment on the secretary’s private, closed press conversations with elected officials.

But Mr. McAuliffe said he relayed the conversation to President Trump at dinner on Sunday and said people are confused and frightened about the administration’s immigration policy and that the president needed to clarify it.

“I think many of the 11 million individuals in this country today — there is a sincere fear that they may be deported. I have been told it’s not the case,” he said.

Mr. McAuliffe also said the Trump administration’s policies on deportation — putting an emphasis on more serious criminals, while leaving alone for now young illegal immigrant Dreamers — mirror those of the Obama administration.

“It’s the very same standard: You will be deported if you came here illegally and have been involved in a criminal enterprise,” he said.

“People just today don’t feel that second part, and I was assured — and I’m going to keep my eyes open,” he said. “I will take them at their word, but this is something we have to pay a lot of attention to.”

Though illegal immigrants with criminal rap sheets were indeed prioritized under Mr. Obama’s deportation policies and continue to be an emphasis under Mr. Trump, Mr. Obama also took steps to shield some 80 percent of illegal immigrants from the threat of deportation.

Analysts say that universe of people subject to deportation has now expanded under Mr. Trump.

For example, Mr. Trump’s policies expand the “border” area both north and south and give agents more discretion to arrest and deport illegal immigrants in the interior part of the country who might have fallen into a protected class during the Obama administration.

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