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John Kelly's "Racist Rant": Latino Immigrants Lack Education, Skills, English; "Can't Assimilate": Same As Kelly's Immigrant Ancestors. Roger Algase

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The following has been updated as of 10:00 pm on May 13 to include a comment appearing on the website ThinkProgress about White House Chief of Staff and former DHS Secretary John Kelly's remarks-demonizing Latino and other mainly non-white immigrants discussed below:

In a May 10 NPR interview which Zack Ford, writing on the website ThinkProgress, has criticized as a "Racist Rant"

https://thinkprogress.org/john-kelly...-fc308b2f5ce9/

Donald Trump's Chief of Staff, John Kelly, made disparaging remarks about Mexican and other Latino immigrants which, while not as openly hostile in tone as Trump's campaign charge that they are "criminals" and "rapists", still reflected racist attitudes that were once directed against Kelly's own Irish and Italian immigrant ancestors. He stated, with regard to "illegal" (i.e. primarily Mexican and other Latino) immigrants:

"They're not criminals. They're not MS-13 - 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...They don't integrate well; they don't have skills."

https://www.vox.com/world/2018/5/11/...assimilate-npr

Kelly was apparently unaware of the irony of his repeating, almost word for word, the same kind of racist attacks that were make against minority immigrants beginning over a hundred years ago, including not only Chinese, Jewish and Eastern European immigrants, but also his own Irish and Italian immigrant ancestors, including, reportedly, his Italian maternal grandfather, who was a fruit cart peddler and never spoke a world of English.

Kelly's paternal grandfather was a railroad brakeman

https://www.politico.com/magazine/st...d-trump-217839

The above cited Think Progress article, after first recalling that similar prejudices were responsible for passage of the openly racist Chinese exclusion laws in the 1880's, comments as follows:

"Similar arguments have been used since to justify xenophobia against Italian, Irish, Jewish and - most recently - Muslim immigrants over the past century.,,the Library of Congress still characterizes Kelly's Irish ancestors as having 'left a rural lifestyle'; these 'destitute' immigrants were 'unprepared for the industrialized, urban centers of the United States.'

But Kelly seems to have no problem applying these same stigmatizing assumptions to immigrants from Mexico and Central America who seek a better life in the U.S."


Neither of the above described careers of Kelly's forbears would have fit into the so-called "Merit-Based" immigration paradigm now being "peddled" to Congress and the public by Donald Trump, whose own immigrant grandfather was a barber - also not among the occupations favored by Trump's four point immigration "Framework" or by the Cotton-Perdue RAISE Act in the Senate, or the Bob Goodlatte House immigration bill which Trump also supports.

As a different Zack by the name of Zack Beauchamp writes in the above cited vox.com article:

"Some critics were quick to point out that these comments were broad, and arguably racist, generalizations about a group of heavily Latino immigrants. Kelly is asserting that they don't 'assimilate' when the best evidence suggests that undocumented immigrants integrate well and commit crimes at lower rates than native born Americans."

He continues:

"The best evidence we have suggests that on most qualitative metrics - rate of English language acquisition, penchant to commit crime, and the like, Latino immigrants are as successful, if not more, than previous waves of immigrants that we'ed now mostly describe as "white" (Italian, Irish, etc.).

But there were panics about the ability of those groups to 'assimilate' in the past as well. back when they weren't considered to fall into the same ethnoracial categories as white Angko-Saxon Protestants. The language of 'assimilation' is more often than not code for a kind of cultural panic, a sense that these immigrants don't 'belong here'..."

To be sure, Kelly's rehash of ancient anti-immigrant prejudices dating back to the anti-Irish Know Nothings of 150 years ago and using them against Latino and other non-European immigrants today might well be called "soft bigotry" as opposed to Trump's "hard bigotry" of calling them "criminals", rapists", gang members, drug dealers and "terrorists", while referring to refugees as "snakes".

But whether the bigotry and hatred against Latino, Muslim, African, Asian and other non-white immigrants now coming out of the White House is "hard" or "soft", the reality is that policy in all areas of immigration - legal as well as unauthorized - at the very highest level of this administration is now, beyond any possible question, being based on hatred, fear, scapegoating and prejudice against immigrants who, in Donald Trump's own words, do not come from "Countries Like Norway".

Basing our immigration policy on bigotry, hard or soft, not only threatens to destroy the non-discriminatory, race neutral immigration system that the United States has had for the past 50 years, but it also undermines the values of equality of all human beings on which this nation was founded and on which our democracy depends. This is the direct imperial road to dictatorship in America.
_______________________________
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world receive work visas and green cards for more than 30 years. Rogers email address is algaselex@gmail.com


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Updated 05-14-2018 at 03:59 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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