He said members of Congress who think his agency is using heavy-handed techniques 'should have the courage and skill to change the laws'. "Otherwise, they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines", he said.
Kelly's address touched on the various security challenges facing the USA - the threat of terrorism both homegrown and foreign, the many facets of critical cybersecurity, drug demand in the US and drug trafficking and human smuggling, to include people with malicious intent.
Secretary Kelly, who made his first public speech on Tuesday at George Washington University, has no apparent plans to slow down - in fact, he says we can't afford to.
The DHS chief's comments came days after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, during his tour of the southwestern border, told Border Patrol agents that the country is stepping into "a new era" of immigration enforcement, according to Politico.
My people, the men and women of this department, do a hard and, at times, almost impossible job and a service to the American people.
"When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people", Spicer told reporters February 23. "We have to start looking very hard at that program - not eliminating it and not doing anything excessive - but look very hard at that program and say, 'What do we need to do?"' Kelly said these "numbers are lower because we've shown that we're serious about border security and enforcing our immigration laws". "And that is execute and uphold the nation's laws".
Kelly added that DHS will continue to "investigate marijuana's illegal pathways along the network into the USA, its distribution within the homeland, and will arrest those involved in the drug trade according to federal law". Many have said that these laws unjustly target groups of people and tear apart immigrant families. "They are utterly without laws, conscience or respect for human life". More specifically, Kelly indicated a potential crackdown on marijuana trafficking in the near future, referring to it as a "potentially risky gateway drug", and making it clear that DHS will continue to prosecute the use, possession, and trade of marijuana until it is no longer illegal under federal law.
"We are under attack from terrorists both within and outside of our borders", he said.
"Over the past few years, we have seen an unprecedented spike in homegrown terrorism. You should applaud those men and women for doing what they do", he said.
"They want to get here, they want to do us harm", he said.
The Trump administration is focused on criminals, mainly with multiple convictions, he said, but the emphasis can be on lesser types of offenses than was the case under President Barack Obama.