The Three Troubling Parts of John Kelly’s NPR Comments About Immigrants

John Kelly in Guatemala, 2017 (Public Domain)

In case you missed it (and very likely, you didn’t) here are just three of the most troubling things White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told NPR on Friday morning:

Central American Immigrants Are Stupid

NPR: Are you in favor of this new move announced by the attorney general early this week that if you cross the border illegally even if you’re a mother with your children [we’re going] to arrest you? We’re going to prosecute you, we’re going to send your kids to a juvenile shelter?

Kelly: The name of the game to a large degree. Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They’re not criminals. They’re not MS-13. Some of them are not. But they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from – fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English, obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well, they don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. But a big name of the game is deterrence.

Separating Families Is Perfectly Fine

NPR: Family separation stands as a pretty tough deterrent.

Kelly: It could be a tough deterrent — would be a tough deterrent. A much faster turnaround on asylum seekers.

NPR: Even though people say that’s cruel and heartless to take a mother away from her children?

Kelly: I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.

Blame Immigrants and the Voices Who Represent Them

NPR: I believe you said that they needed to get off their lazy asses and register.

Kelly: I believe that’s a quote. But for whatever reason they didn’t get off their butts. The fact is that this president said, “throw them in there so,” we get 1.8 million. That was earthshaking enough. And then a path to citizenship. I thought based on all of the rhetoric I was getting from the particularly the Democrats on the Hill both sides of the aisle both sides of the hill that they, I mean that was Nevada and they you know they tap that around and tossed it around.

NPR: What would you like to see happen legislatively right now?

Kelly: Right now I would like to see legislatively the four pillars enacted. And I think those that did not grasp the four pillars and pass it, have let down 1.8 million DACA people — either full recipients or the ones that didn’t get around to signing up and they’re still in limbo. And this president wants to get them out of limbo and get them into heaven. But it is astounding to me with all of my interactions with the Hispanic Caucus, the Democratic Caucus, all of that when this stuff was served up on a silver platter they did nothing.

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