DHS Sec. Nielsen 'Optimistic' About 'Four Pillars' of DACA Deal

January 10, 2018

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said Wednesday that she remains "optimistic" that effective immigration reform legislation will materialize, despite a federal judge's decision to block the president's move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Judge William Alsup of the Federal District Court in San Francisco on Tuesday called President Donald Trump's decision to rescind former President Barack Obama's executive order "improper," and wrote that the administration must "maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis."

Asked by Fox News’ Sandra Smith if the judge's decision will get in the way of immigration reform, Nielsen said she was "disappointed" with the court's decision, but didn’t see it as a major obstacle to creating a permanent solution.

"We are very disappointed by the decision, but what we heard yesterday at the meeting was we're all committed to finding a deal," she said, referencing Tuesday's bipartisan immigration roundtable. "So, a permanent solution is actually to the benefit of all the current DACA recipients, and that's what we'll pursue."

Nielsen continued on to discuss the results of Tuesday's meeting, which was unprecedentedly televised for over 40 minutes, saying she feels "optimistic" in "a clear path forward."

"I'm very optimistic. We left with a clear path forward. We agreed on the four pillars–components of a deal," Nielsen said. "I’m very encouraged by what we did yesterday and look forward to continuing to meet our colleagues on the hill day to day until we get this done."

Nielsen further expanded on Trump's comment that the United States needed a "bill of love," and on how the "four pillars" fit into that vision.

"What is the 'bill of love' that you and the president and the administration can back?" Smith asked.

"I think its the four pillars that we discussed yesterday," Nielsen said. "So it is addressing a permanent fix for the current DACA recipients, it's working on border security ... it's moving toward ending chain migration, and it's certainly eliminating the diversity lottery."

"I think the 'love' part is the president showing his compassion for the DACA recipients; he’s been clear on that. He wants to find a permanent fix," Nielsen said. "But he’s also very clear that the way to do that is we must increase border security and close the loopholes, so that we don't end up here two, three years with another population that we're concerned about."

Nielsen was confirmed as Homeland Security secretary last month and wasted no time telling the Washington Examiner her number one priority was to protect Americans: "making America safe starts with securing our borders, increasing interior immigration enforcement, protecting our communities, and dismantling transnational criminal organizations."