Homeland Security Secretary talks commerce, immigration and deportations during Detroit visit

Posted at 6:38 PM, Mar 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-27 18:38:47-04

Trade and immigration enforcement were among the hot topics during a visit Monday by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

Secretary John Kelly came to Detroit at the request of Senator Gary Peters, (D) Michigan.

"I asked Secretary Kelly to make the trip to Detroit to hear first hand from community members and also to see the operations that are occurring on this busy border crossing," Peters said during a press conference at the U.S. Customs near the Ambassador Bridge. 

Peters made note of the more than $200 billion in trade that takes place each year between Michigan and Canada. He also made the case for infrastructure improvements at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron as well as the need for a second lock at the Soo Locks in the Upper Peninsula.

The Trump administration's stance on immigration was a topic of great interest during a meeting with leaders of Detroit's Hispanic and Arab American communities.

The Secretary made no apologies for stepped up enforcement.

"We've got to do something," Kelly said. "We're almost at a crisis right now because we have 11 million people in America that are below the radar. Most of them are not bad people to say the least, some of them are. We're after the bad ones, the worst of the worst, if you will, but I can't ignore the law," said Kelly. 

Prominent attorney Nabih Ayad, who founded the Arab-American Civil Rights League, attended the meeting. He said anxiety remains members of the community because of the policies. 

"You're dividing the country, breaking those long bridges that we've  built for many years with the community and law enforcement and you're just doing more harm and isolating the community from law enforcement," said Ayad.