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White House chief of staff John Kelly has slammed Congress for doing "nothing" to protect roughly 800,000 young people shielded from deportation under an Obama-era policy that President Donald Trump chose to end.
In a Sunday email to Fox News, the retired Marine Corps general criticized lawmakers after Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., called him a "disgrace to the uniform" for supporting Trump's move to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
"As far as the congressman and other irresponsible members of Congress are concerned, they have the luxury of saying what they want as they do nothing and have almost no responsibility," Kelly told Fox. "They can call people liars but it would be inappropriate for me to say the same thing back at them. As my blessed mother used to say 'empty barrels make the most noise.'"
The Trump administration is ending DACA with a six-month delay to push Congress to make the program law, criticizing the Obama administration's authority to enact it. While bipartisan lawmakers have called for new protections for the so-called dreamers, similar legislation has failed in Congress in the past.
Trump has faced bipartisan criticism for the decision to end DACA, which shields from deportation about 800,000 undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children and authorizes them to work in the United States for two years. Trump has urged lawmakers to "legalize" DACA, but skepticism surrounds whether the GOP-controlled Congress can do so.
Kelly's comments also underscore the pressure White House officials are putting on Congress to take action on DACA.
Gutierrez, for his part, voted for past legislation to shield dreamers.