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John Kelly Lets Out His Inner Steve King: Immigrants “Don’t Have Skills”, Can’t Assimilate

 

Yesterday, supposed adult-in-the-room John Kelly, Donald Trump’s chief of staff and the apparent Steve King-wannabe of the Trump Administration, made headlines by denigrating and disparaging immigrants who come into the United States. As he said during an NPR interview:

[Undocumented immigrants are] 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 integrate well, they don’t have skills.

There’s a lot that’s elitist and wrong about Kelly’s statement, including 1) the idea that rural people don’t matter — GOP base anyone? — 2) that those without much education can’t contribute, 3) that not being able to speak English, have skills, or immediate assimilate are unchangeable facts, not to mention 4) the idea that an entire group of people can be profiled and casually dismissed in this way.

And as Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post points out, Kelly doesn’t even have his facts straight:

Actually, current immigrants assimilate just as well as immigrant in past generations, according to a slew of data-rich studies. Most undocumented immigrants in the United States are not poor, uneducated people coming over the border…

Immigrants who are here illegally are more likely to work (hence, they must have some job skills) than other groups.

In short, Kelly is dead wrong. The chief of staff chooses either to lie or not to inform himself about basic facts relevant to hugely consequential policies he champions. He aptly reflect the prejudices of his boss and the thinking behind the cruel policies…that he and Trump doggedly pursue.

Advocates, allies and many others whose own family histories are similar to what Kelly described have been lifting up their own immigrant stories on Twitter and pointing out that Kelly’s Italian and Irish ancestors — including a grandfather who never spoke English — weren’t exactly embraced by those who came before them, either: