The Washington Post, CNN and other news outlets are reporting that during Trump's Asian trip, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke from Japan to pressure her to end TPS for 86,000 Honduran immigrants, many of whom have been living in the US for decades.

According to The Post, Kelly put forceful pressure in Duke to end the TPS designation now, instead of postponing a decision for six months to give her more time to review the situation. The same story also states that Kelly told Duke that the delay in making a decision

"prevents our wider strategic goal [on immigration]."

The report also says that Duke threatened to resign. For CNN's similar report and link to the Washington Post article, see:

CNN also quotes a source as saying the following about Duke's reaction to the pressure from the White House to make a decision based on its political immigration agenda, rather than objective facts concerning conditions in gang-ridden Honduras, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and the effect that a decision would have on tens of thousands of immigrants who have been living in the US legally for years and are mostly well integrated into American society:

"I think she's very distraught and disappointed at Kelly and the whole apparatus...It's like, 'Why do I keep doing this if you guys are just going to beat me up?'"

There are a few important points about this story. First, according to the above news articles, the dispute over TPS is not just a matter of government officials disagreeing with each other over some policy issue or other, but an obvious attempt by the White House to destroy any independence that an agency such as the DHS may still have, and force it to make decisions based on political considerations rather than the merits.

This has extremely dangerous implications for immigration, because it could mean that DHS agencies such as USCIS would be making decisions on petitions and applications for immigration benefits of every variety based on Trump's immigration agenda, rather than according to the law. There are clear and very disturbing signs that this is already happening in an entirely different area of immigration law which is also under attack in the Trump Era more than ever before, namely specialty worker H-1B petitions.

I will have more to say about that issue in the context of this year's H-1B RFE blizzard (or given the sorry record of this administration in terms of climate change denial and lack of effective assistance to non-white American citizens victims in Puerto Rico, "hurricane" might be a better word) in a forthcoming comment.

To be sure, political goals and immigration agency actions have hardly been strangers to each other during any presidential administration. But turning the DHS into a mere extension of presidential power over immigration would have dangerous implications which go beyond immigration itself, and could destroy the foundations of democracy and the rule of law in America.

For a further discussion of this issue in relation to the White House attempt to dictate TPS policy to the DHS, see: The Atlantic:

Trump Battles Constraints on His Power

Furthermore, no one who has been following the president's immigration policies since taking office 10 months ago can have any doubt as to what the immigration "goal" is the Kelly referred to according to the above news report. It is, by every sign that we have seen so far, nothing short of the ethnic cleansing of millions of non-white immigrants from the US through mass deportation, and the whitening of our legal immigration system by eliminating or vastly reducing virtually every visa category which has benefited immigrants from outside Europe - as exemplified, most recently, by Trump's shameful attempt to demagogue the NYC terror attack a pretext for pushing to eliminate the Diversity Visa and to enact the RAISE Act, which is heavily skewed toward immigration from Europe.

As an additional, but not unimportant note, it is becoming harder and harder to overlook the sheer cruelty, amounting almost to a sadistic delight in inflicting suffering on minority immigrants which has characterized so much of Trump's immigration policy (DACA aside - he does seem to have some genuine concern for the almost 800,000 young victims of his own policy in this regard, but some might see only a cynical motivation to use them as a bargaining chip for his harsh immigration agenda instead).

For example, one remembers Trump's comments expressing delight at the way that his first Muslim ban order was initially being implemented, despite the terrible chaos and suffering that was experienced by hundreds, if not thousands, of Muslim immigrants during that phase.

Nor, according to writer Heather Digby Parton, is physical sadism toward non-citizens (though not exactly immigrants!) unknown in John Kelly's own background as commandant at Guantanamo. Parton writes about the horrifying torture that Kelly, according to her article, inflicted on inmates there in the course of a hunger strike. See:

John Kelly wants mass deportation - and given his record, that's no surprise

Reading about the way that Kelly allegedly tormented his victims at Guantanamo according to this horrifying report, one almost has to ask if this story is really about something that took place under the control of the United States of America, or whether the writer was describing some well known locations in a certain country in Central Europe during the 1930's and early 1940's - places with names such as Dachau and Buchenwald.

If today, the rights of immigrants, who may happen to have a skin color or religion that is out of favor with the current president and his administration, are subject to the arbitrary whim of one-man rule with unmistakable overtones of cruelty and sadism in implementation of a white supremacist agenda, what kind of rights and freedoms can the American people look forward to tomorrow?
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School who has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants, from many different parts of the world, obtain work visas and green cards for more than 35 years. His email address is