John Kelly: Undocumented Immigrants Are 'Rural' People Who Lack Skills

John Kelly said undocumented immigrants "don't speak English; obviously that's a big thing." Meanwhile, his maternal grandfather "never spoke a word of English."



Whoever believed John Kelly was the sole moderate voice of reason in the Trump administration was clearly mistaken.

NPR recently interviewed the White House chief of staff and asked him about separating migrant families at the border. The question came in the wake of a recent controversial statement by Attorney-General Jeff Sessions who warned parents trying to cross the U.S. border illegally could be separated from their children.

Kelly began answering the question by, essentially, refuting President Donald Trump, saying not all people trying to enter the United States illegally are gang members. However, he added a majority of people crossing the border are "rural."

"In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth- sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm," Kelly stated. "They don't speak English; obviously that's a big thing. ... They don't integrate well; they don't have skills."

Assuming a majority of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. don't have any skills is a baseless argument that has long been used by bigots.

Quite contrary to what Kelly said, experts say immigrants, legal and undocumented, have been an asset to the U.S. economy and workforce.

"Immigrants are overrepresented in a lot of occupations in both low- and high-skilled jobs," Daniel Costa, former director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based economic research think tank, explained ABC News. "You'd feel an impact and loss in many, many different occupations and industries, from construction and landscape to finance and IT."

Also, undocumented immigrants contribute billions of dollars to the American economy each year in the form of taxes, paying for Social Security services they can't even access.

There are nearly 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, 8 million of whom are in the workforce, according to Pew Research.

As per 2015 IRS data, 4.4 million income tax returns came from workers who don't have Social Security numbers, many of whom were undocumented people. All in all, they paid around $23.6 billion that year.

As far as English speaking skills are concerned, granted, understanding and speaking the language facilitates integration, but does not necessarily ensure it.

Also, the point about English speaking skills was particularly ironic coming from Kelly, whose mother Josephine “Honey” Pedalino, was the descendant of Italian immigrants. "Her father never spoke a word of English and made his living peddling a fruit cart in East Boston," Politico reported.

And if Kelly still has doubts if undocumented immigrants are not skilled or should speak English, here's what he should know:






Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters

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