In comments made during a visit to Mexico, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the Trump administration would not carry out mass deportations of immigrants.
Kelly's remarks came just hours after President Donald Trump spoke about the new guidelines for deporting immigrants without legal papers, Politico reported.
"There will be no -- repeat -- no mass deportations," Kelly said. "Everything we do in DHS will be done legally and according to human rights and the legal justice system of the United States."
Trump earlier described the deportation plan as "a military operation," but Kelly disagreed.
"And again, listen to this. No -- repeat -- no use of military force in immigration operations. None," Kelly added. "At least half of you try to get that right because it continually comes up in the reporting."
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained the apparent contradiction by saying that Trump was not implying that the military would be used.
"The president was using that as an adjective," Spicer said. "The president was clearly describing the manner in which this was being done."
Kelly's comments came two days after the Department of Homeland Security released memos detailing its new approach to deporting illegal immigrants.
The guidelines explained how more resources to enforce immigration law would be made available, including by allowing state and local law enforcement officials to perform the functions of immigration officers. They also expanded categories of people eligible for expedited deportation.
"We're not going to start changing this today; it's not going to start happening tomorrow," a DHS official said, according to CNN. "You will not see folks rounded up or anything of the sort."
Kelly also attempted to smooth relations with Mexico during his visit. The Mexican president canceled a White House visit in January because Trump called upon him to accept that Mexico would pay for the border wall.
"The relationship and the interaction and friendship down on the border is something that you all ought to do a story on because between the Mexican officials and the American officials is a friendship and area of cooperation that has to be seen to be believed," Kelly said, according to Politico.
But Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso was less positive, noting that Kelly's visit came "in a moment where we have notorious differences."