John Kelly says undocumented immigrants can't fit in. That's not Be Best

Forgive first lady Melania Trump the questionable grammar in the slogan "...

Posted: May 11, 2018 9:57 PM
Updated: May 11, 2018 9:57 PM

Forgive first lady Melania Trump the questionable grammar in the slogan "Be Best" for her initiative aimed at civility and general betterment.

She's asking everyone to just be better and nicer and that's worth doing.

"It is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind (children) that when they are using their voices -- whether verbally or online -- they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion," said the first lady at the White House.

That was before her husband bullied Chuck Schumer on Twitter, a staffer dismissed John McCain because he'll be dead soon and chief of staff John Kelly tried to wrap his boss's derogatory nativism in some nicer-sounding words.

If there's something about being thoughtful with words in Be Best, then this was a bad week to be it.

The most glaring example might be Kelly, who -- although he didn't call undocumented immigrants' native countries s--tholes and didn't say they were rapists and criminals -- deployed the more directly offensive language used by his boss, President Donald Trump, in saying that undocumented immigrants aren't good enough for the US.

"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 MS13," Kelly told NPR. "But they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society."

Setting aside the role many undocumented immigrants often play in US society -- doing back-breaking work native-born workers often do not -- what Kelly does is foment the perception that undocumented immigrants -- one type of people -- aren't as good as people born in the US.

Saying one class of people is different than another class of people is the definition of racism.

They're not bad, see, they're just uneducated. Which makes them incapable of assimilating.

That's just not true. It is estimated that by the Center for Migration Studies that more unauthorized immigrants have overstayed a legal visa rather than illegally crossed the border. Many of these people are educated and have skills.

But the larger problem is that Kelly, who as a former DHS secretary should know the data, echoes the language and the anti-immigrant arguments used throughout US history against people because of their race, religion, or country of origin.

"They don't integrate well; they don't have skills," said Kelly. "They're not bad people. They're coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws."

Kelly argued, essentially, his hands are tied by the laws despite his sympathies for these uneducated people. And that's the bedrock, apparently, for the administration's new zero tolerance policy toward illegal border crossings, announced this week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that will unashamedly separate children from their parents.

"This is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long," Kelly said of separating families.

The nut of Kelly's comments is in complete alignment with what Trump has said about immigrants, both at the outset of his campaign and recently, complaining about the US immigration lottery system.

"You can imagine what those countries put into the system. They're not putting their good ones," Trump said in April.

During a closed-door meeting with lawmakers he complained that people from "s**thole" countries in Africa were coming to the US instead of from Nordic countries.

Or, further back, when Trump announced his candidacy railing against immigrants.

"The US has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems," he said at the infamous Trump Tower campaign announcement. "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

More recently, Trump has argued the immigrants themselves might not be rapists, but they're being raped on their trek to the US. The difficulty of the journey from Central America has been well documented and it is one of the reasons for the creation of a caravan of asylum-seekers traveling north that Trump feared.

In each case -- what Trump has said and what Kelly now says -- the fear that is driving them is that the immigrants are making the US worse because the immigrants, somehow, aren't as good, which is contrary to the country's immigrant history and dangerous, divisive politics.

CNN followed the caravan, by the way, and put faces to those people hoping for new opportunity, many of them traveling with small children and fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, and trying to be their best.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61516

Reported Deaths: 1701
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19472835
Ramsey7658267
Dakota4480106
Anoka3739115
Stearns290620
Washington215545
Nobles17656
Olmsted174723
Scott157419
Mower11032
Rice10388
Blue Earth9275
Wright8925
Carver8733
Clay78540
Sherburne7328
Kandiyohi6981
St. Louis57019
Todd4262
Lyon4253
Freeborn3601
Steele3512
Nicollet34213
Benton3203
Watonwan3080
Winona26416
Beltrami2410
Crow Wing23914
Le Sueur2241
Martin2075
Chisago2041
Goodhue1979
McLeod1970
Otter Tail1973
Cottonwood1780
Becker1611
Pipestone1579
Polk1544
Waseca1490
Itasca14712
Douglas1431
Carlton1380
Unassigned13441
Pine1290
Dodge1280
Isanti1280
Murray1221
Chippewa1061
Morrison931
Wabasha920
Brown892
Faribault870
Jackson860
Meeker862
Rock850
Sibley842
Koochiching793
Pennington751
Cass732
Mille Lacs713
Fillmore650
Renville655
Lincoln580
Grant563
Swift551
Roseau520
Yellow Medicine520
Pope480
Norman410
Aitkin401
Houston400
Kanabec371
Redwood360
Hubbard340
Wilkin343
Marshall290
Mahnomen271
Wadena270
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake210
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse110
Lac qui Parle80
Cook50
Lake of the Woods40
Kittson30

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49024

Reported Deaths: 930
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10351207
Woodbury372752
Black Hawk313466
Linn239988
Johnson210719
Dallas188835
Buena Vista179412
Scott172714
Dubuque168631
Marshall144626
Pottawattamie132526
Story116714
Wapello90433
Muscatine84848
Webster8138
Crawford7303
Sioux6373
Cerro Gordo63417
Warren5691
Tama55329
Jasper47926
Wright4731
Plymouth4639
Clinton4103
Dickinson3824
Louisa37814
Washington30010
Boone2593
Hamilton2481
Franklin24110
Bremer2277
Clarke2023
Clay1961
Carroll1931
Emmet1924
Des Moines1862
Hardin1840
Shelby1841
Marion1740
Benton1601
Poweshiek1598
Floyd1572
Jackson1561
Allamakee1554
Mahaska14017
Cedar1331
Guthrie1325
Jones1322
Buchanan1291
Henry1274
Hancock1222
Madison1222
Butler1212
Humboldt1181
Lee1173
Pocahontas1162
Delaware1151
Lyon1142
Harrison1091
Cherokee1081
Clayton1043
Iowa981
Taylor980
Winneshiek971
Page940
Monona910
Kossuth900
Mills890
Jefferson860
Palo Alto860
Sac850
Fayette840
Winnebago840
Calhoun832
Osceola830
Grundy791
Mitchell780
Union771
Cass741
Monroe747
Lucas714
Worth660
Davis602
Montgomery594
Chickasaw540
Appanoose493
Howard490
Fremont420
Greene420
Keokuk371
Van Buren361
Ida310
Adair300
Audubon281
Decatur230
Ringgold221
Wayne201
Adams160
Unassigned30
Rochester
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 51°
Mason City
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 51°
Albert Lea
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 57°
Austin
52° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 52°
Charles City
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 55°
Clouds clear tonight, tracking sunshine for Tuesday!
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Affinity Plus Credit Union holding technology drop off

Image

More parents switching to homeschooling

Image

Car crashes into Mason City home

Image

Dangerous week for cyclists

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast - Monday

Image

Iowa fall practices begin Monday

Image

How you can raise funds with a local tech companies app

Image

Sara's 6pm Forecast - Monday

Image

Saving A Historic Church

Image

Rochester International Airport announces new service

Community Events