John Kelly reportedly pressured the Homeland Security chief to end Honduran immigrants' protected status

  • The Homeland Security Department decided on Monday to extend the temporary protected status of thousands of Hondurans in the US.
  • White House chief of staff John Kelly was reportedly frustrated by the decision, calling the acting Homeland Security directly to push back against it.


An "irritated" John Kelly called acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke on Monday to pressure her to rescind the protected residency status of some Central American migrants, current and former administration officials told The Washington Post.

Monday was the Homeland Security Department's deadline to decide on the status of nearly 60,000 Hondurans and 2,500 Nicaraguans who were permitted to remain in the US under temporary protected status after 1998, when Hurricane Mitch struck Central America.

18 PHOTOS
Nicaragua
See Gallery
Nicaragua
A late-afternoon sun illuminates part of the Brito Inlet, Dec. 26, 2013, which Nicaragua says is the likely Pacific Coast outlet of a planned interoceanic canal to rival that of Panama. (Tim Johnson/MCT via Getty Images)
Nicaragua hopes Chinese capital will help it build an interoceanic canal a little south of this Pacific coast spot. The canal would become a rival to the 100-year-old Panama Canal. (Tim Johnson/MCT via Getty Images)
The head of Nicaragua's interoceanic canal authority, Manuel Coronel Kautz, stands before a topographic map of his nation, Dec. 17, 2013. (Tim Johnson/MCT via Getty Images)
Fisherman Pedro Luis Gutierrez said as many as 500 Chinese technicians have come through his Pacific coast village of Brito in Nicaragua to take measurements for a possible interoceanic canal. (Tim Johnson/MCT via Getty Images)
In this old newspaper photo from El Nuevo Diaro from the 1950s, fishermen stand on a wharf before sharks they caught in Lake Nicaragua. The freshwater lake is one of the few where sharks are known to reside, arriving upstream from a river to the ocean. (Tim Johnson/MCT via Getty Images)
Wang Jing, chairman of Beijing Xinwei Telecom Technology Co Ltd. and chief executive officer and chairman of HKND Group, speaks during a news briefing in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, June 25, 2013. Wang, the Chinese billionaire behind a $40 billion plan to cut a canal through Nicaragua, said hes successfully attracted global investors for a project that has been on the drawing board for more than 150 years. Photographer: Dieter Depypere/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Nicaraguans protest in front the National Parliament against the inter-oceanic canal in Managua, on June 13, 2013. President Daniel Ortega said last week a concession to build an inter-oceanic canal across his Central American nation was awarded to an unnamed Chinese consortium based in Hong Kong. AFP PHOTO/Inti OCON (Photo credit should read Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images)
Bolivian Ronald Maclean Abaroa, spokesman of the Chinese company HK Nicaragua Development Gran Canal Interoceanico, talks with journalists about the Nicaraguan canal project in Managua, on June 12, 2013. President Daniel Ortega said last week a concession to build an inter-oceanic canal across his Central American nation was awarded to an unnamed Chinese consortium based in Hong Kong. AFP PHOTO/Inti OCON (Photo credit should read Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images)
Bolivian Ronald Maclean Abaroa, spokesman of the Chinese company HK Nicaragua Development Gran Canal Interoceanico, talks with journalists about the Nicaraguan canal project in Managua, on June 12, 2013. President Daniel Ortega said last week a concession to build an inter-oceanic canal across his Central American nation was awarded to an unnamed Chinese consortium based in Hong Kong. AFP PHOTO/Inti OCON (Photo credit should read Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images)
Nicaraguan opposition lawmakers protest in the National Parliament against the inter-oceanic canal in Managua, on June 13, 2013. President Daniel Ortega said last week a concession to build an inter-oceanic canal across his Central American nation was awarded to an unnamed Chinese consortium based in Hong Kong. AFP PHOTO/Inti OCON (Photo credit should read Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images)
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (L) shake hands with Wang Jing, president of of the Chinese company HK Nicaragua Development Gran Canal Interoceanico, during the framework agreement for the construction of the Interoceanic Grand Canal in Managua, on June 14, 2013. Nicaraguan lawmakers approved a controversial deal that would allow a Hong Kong company to build a $40 billion oceanic waterway to rival the Panama Canal, and then manage it for the next 50 years. Environmental activists fear the worst for Lake Nicaragua, which the planned waterway will pass through. AFP/Inti OCON (Photo credit should read Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images)
Nicaraguans protest in front the National Parliament against the inter-oceanic canal in Managua, on June 13, 2013. President Daniel Ortega said last week a concession to build an inter-oceanic canal across his Central American nation was awarded to an unnamed Chinese consortium based in Hong Kong. AFP PHOTO/Inti OCON (Photo credit should read Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images)
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (L) stands with Wang Jing, president of of the Chinese company HK Nicaragua Development Gran Canal Interoceanico, during the framework agreement for the construction of the Interoceanic Grand Canal in Managua, on June 14, 2013. Nicaraguan lawmakers approved a controversial deal that would allow a Hong Kong company to build a $40 billion oceanic waterway to rival the Panama Canal, and then manage it for the next 50 years. Environmental activists fear the worst for Lake Nicaragua, which the planned waterway will pass through. AFP/Inti OCON (Photo credit should read Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images)
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (L) speaks next to Wang Jing (R), president of Chinese Company HK Nicaragua Development Gran Canal Interoceanico, during the framework agreement for the construction of the Interoceanic Grand Canal in Managua, on June 14, 2013. Nicaraguan lawmakers approved a controversial deal that would allow a Hong Kong company to build a $40 billion oceanic waterway to rival the Panama Canal, and then manage it for the next 50 years. Environmental activists fear the worst for Lake Nicaragua, which the planned waterway will pass through. AFP/Inti OCON (Photo credit should read Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images)
Nicaragua Isthmus Canal, 1898. Illustration by Maximillian Von Sonnenstern. (Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
Nicaragua Isthmus Canal, 1870. Illustration by Julius Bien Co. (Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
A topographic map (by Trelawney Saunders) shows the countries of Central America: Republic of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Veragua (modern-day Panama) as well as several proposed canals, 1850. (Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Trump administration officials have been generally critical of temporary protected status as a misguided immigration policy, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had notified Homeland Security that conditions in Central America had improved enough to send them back.

Duke ultimately decided to end the status for Nicaraguans, who now have until January to change their immigration status or leave the country. But she deferred a decision on the Honduran immigrants for six months, believing she did not have enough information on that group and wanting to act cautiously, as many of them have lived in the US for 20 years or more.

Elaine DukeYouTube Screengrab (Government Technology & Services Coalition)

Kelly, who was Homeland Security secretary before being named White House chief of staff this summer, reportedly called Duke from Japan as Homeland Security officials were preparing to announce that decision.

Part of his concern was about questions Kirstjen Nielsen — a close associate of his at Homeland Security and in the White House — could face about temporary protected status during her confirmation hearing to be the new Homeland Security secretary, though he didn't mention her by name.

While he reportedly acknowledged that decision was Duke's to make, Kelly "was persistent, telling her he didn't want to kick the can down the road, and that it could hurt [Nielsen's] nomination," an administration official told The Post.

10 PHOTOS
US Department of Homeland Security -- TSA, ICE, Customs and Border Protection
See Gallery
US Department of Homeland Security -- TSA, ICE, Customs and Border Protection
WASHINGTON, USA - MARCH 7: The Department of Homeland Security logo is seen on a law enforcement vehicle in Washington, United States on March 7, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer stands in the TSA pre-check area at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. The TSA, part of the Homeland Security Department (DHS), reported seizing a record number of firearms at U.S. airports in 2015, a 20 precent increase over 2014. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer operates an x-ray machine in the TSA pre-check area at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. The TSA, part of the Homeland Security Department (DHS), reported seizing a record number of firearms at U.S. airports in 2015, a 20 precent increase over 2014. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Prohibited items are displayed as they sit in a voluntary abandoned property bin in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pre-check area at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. The TSA, part of the Homeland Security Department (DHS), reported seizing a record number of firearms at U.S. airports in 2015, a 20 precent increase over 2014. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sign stands at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. Financing for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is set to lapse after Friday and the agency would face a partial shutdown unless Congress provides new money. More than 200,000 government employees deemed essential at DHS, including TSA officers, would still have to report to their posts, even though their pay would stop unless Congress finds a solution. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers check passenger's identification at a security checkpoint at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. Financing for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is set to lapse after Friday and the agency would face a partial shutdown unless Congress provides new money. More than 200,000 government employees deemed essential at DHS, including TSA officers, would still have to report to their posts, even though their pay would stop unless Congress finds a solution. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 02: A sign directs travelers to a security checkpoint staffed by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers at O'Hare Airport on June 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Department of Homeland Security said that the acting head of the TSA would be replaced following a report that airport screeners failed to detect explosives and weapons in nearly all of the tests that an undercover team conducted at airports around the country. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The entrance to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Cyber Crimes Center is seen in this U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) building in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S. on July 21, 2015. Courtesy Josh Denmark/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
$506,057 of the more than a $1-million collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Laredo, Texas port of entry in two separate southbound enforcement actions is seen after being seized in this undated handout photo released by CBP on July 27, 2010. On July 22, CBP officers seized $506,057 in undeclared cash from a 36-year-old male Mexican citizen from Brookshire, Texas driving south into Mexico. The second money seizure occurred on July 25 as CBP Field Operations Officers and Border Patrol (BP) agents seized 50 bundles containing $607,629 in undeclared U.S.currency from a 33 year-old Mexican citizen driving south into Mexico from Houston, Texas. The drivers were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents for further investigation. REUTERS/U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Kelly also reportedly said that extending the status further "prevents our wider strategic goal" on immigration.

Duke was angered by the move, according to the official.

"To get a call like that from Asia, after she'd already made the decision, was a slap in the face," the official told The Post.

A White House official confirmed the call to The Post, saying Kelly was frustrated with Duke's perceived indecisiveness. A Homeland Security spokesman told The Post that it was "perfectly normal" for White House and Homeland Security officials to discuss the decision before it was finalized.

Nielsen faced a Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday but did not receive any questions about the hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the US under temporary protected status.

Kelly was heralded upon his selection as Homeland Security secretary, but he was criticized for his dealings with immigrant groups and for pushing forward President Donald Trump's widely criticized immigration and border policies. Trump appears to hold Kelly in high regard, and Kelly has backed many of the president's more contentious positions.

24 PHOTOS
John Kelly in his White House role
See Gallery
John Kelly in his White House role
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks on his phone in a hallway outside the room where U.S. President Donald Trump was meeting with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivers speech at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) before a briefing on hurricane relief efforts in a hangar at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about immigration reform at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner look on as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks before meeting with Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his delegation at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about border security during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivers a statement accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City, Mexico February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) and First Lady Melania Trump (lower right) listen as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (R) shows the time to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (L) as they attend a session on reforming the United Nations at U.N. Headquarters in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (C) stands in an adjacent cabin as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the press cabin aboard Air Force One on his way to Washington after viewing damage from Hurricane Irma in Florida, U.S. September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes remarks to reporters before meeting with a bipartisan group of members of Congress at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (R) attend Kuwait's Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and U.S. President Donald Trump's news conference after their meetings at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly stands before a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (R) arrives with fellow staff to board Air Force One with U.S. President Trump for travel to New Jersey from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly looks down at his phone as he boards Air Force One in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S., hours after it was announced that Trump Senior Adviser Steve Bannon left the administration August 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly looks on as he listens to Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong (not pictured) delivering a joint message at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly arrives to Secretary of Interior Building before addressing the media, in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly takes questions from the media while addressing the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly leans on the Resolute Desk during a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks during a daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

NOW WATCH: Animated map shows the history of immigration to the US

See Also:

SEE ALSO: The Trump administration's pursuit of MS-13 may be feeding 'institutional schizophrenia' in the Justice Department

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.