Against a dusty backdrop, the sound of heavy truck traffic riding a hot breeze from a nearby Mexican highway, John Kelly, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, on Friday said the department would continue its controversial practice of arresting illegal immigrants in places like courthouses or places where those individuals might go to seek services, report crimes, or even file paperwork to postpone deportation.

“The best place for us to pick up these illegal criminals is in jails and prisons. It is inconceivable to me that an elected official at any level would prefer these types of men and women to be released into the community,” Kelly said.

Sheriff’s’ departments and police departments “want to cooperate with us and turn these people over that are in the jails,” Kelly said, meaning immigrants without proper documentation who had been apprehended by police on other charges. “If they don’t do that” — meaning if local law enforcement does not hand those individuals over to ICE because of political pressure — “we have to go into neighborhoods. We have to go into courthouses. We have to go where we can find them and apprehend them.”

On Tuesday, a federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s effort to withhold federal funds from “sanctuary cities,” which seek to limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

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