Homeland Security Pick, John Kelly, Calls for Border Wall (VIDEO)

The retired marine general says tightening the US border would be his top priority at homeland security secretary.

John Kelly, the US President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the department of homeland security, has said tightening the country’s border would be his top priority at his new role.

In a questionnaire released on Tuesday ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing, Kelly said achieving that goal starts with “physical obstacles like a border wall and supporting surveillance technologies”.

The retired marine general said it also requires constant patrols from federal and local law enforcement.

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Trump has pledged to build a wall on the Mexican border and carry out mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.

Deportations reached record levels under President Barack Obama, whose administration deported more than 2.5 million people between 2009 and 2015.

A large wall already exists on much of the US-Mexico border.

In the questionnaire, Kelly emphasised his commitment to telling “truth to power” as he seeks to win Senate confirmation.

Kelly, who said he has worked for many senior US officials, noted: “I never hesitated to disagree with any of them, or make difficult recommendations when appropriate.”.

Protests

Earlier on Tuesday, the Senate confirmation hearing for Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, was marred by interruptions.

Two men wearing costumes of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), the white supremacist organisation with a history of fatal racist attacks on people of colour, were ejected from the building after they disrupted the hearing.

Civil-liberties advocates seized on Sessions’ voting record and his appearances before groups that espouse anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant views.

He was rejected for a federal judgeship by the Senate Judiciary Committee 30 years ago amid accusations of racism.

Separately, John Kerry, the outgoing US secretary of state, said on Tuesday there has been little contact between Department of State officials and Trump’s transition team.

Asked about the transition process at a forum in Washington, DC, Kerry said: “It’s going pretty smoothly because there’s not an enormous amount of it”.

Kerry said he had not yet met Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, but expected to do so soon.

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Reprinted with permission from Al Jazeera