Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen blasted the Supreme Court on Wednesday for making the country less safe, saying at the southern border that a recent court decision on deportation "undermines" her agency's work.
In prepared remarks at a news conference with Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey held in between the dual border fencing system at San Luis Port of Entry in Arizona, Nielsen cited the ruling as part of the need for Congress to grant her department's requests for more enforcement powers.
"The Supreme Court ruling (Tuesday) was just one further example of a system that undermines our efforts to keep the country secure," Nielsen said. "By preventing the federal government from removing known criminal aliens, we allow our country to be a safe haven for criminals. This is not border security, this is not national security. We need Congress' help ... only Congress can make or change laws."
In the ruling on Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 that one of the pieces of immigration law that required mandatory deportation of immigrants with certain criminal convictions was unconstitutional.
Struck down was one of the definitions of "aggravated felony" that qualified green card holders in the US for automatic deportation -- convictions for "crimes of violence." The liberal justices were joined by President Donald Trump's recent conservative appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch in deciding the category was unconstitutionally vague. A variety of state criminal laws create a wide range of crimes under that category.
The ruling only applied to the "crimes of violence" definition. A number of other serious crimes that define aggravated felony under immigration law were unaffected by the ruling, meaning many serious criminals still qualify for the mandatory deportation.
The case originated under the Obama administration when the government sought to deport a Filipino man who came to the US in 1992 at the age of 13 who had been convicted in 2007 and 2009 of residential burglary in California.
Trump himself reacted similarly to Nielsen regarding the ruling on Tuesday evening, tweeting, "Today's Court decision means that Congress must close loopholes that block the removal of dangerous criminal aliens, including aggravated felons. This is a public safety crisis that can only be fixed by Congress -- House and Senate must quickly pass a legislative fix to ensure violent criminal aliens can be removed from our society. Keep America Safe!"