Dems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy'

Dems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy'
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Democrats scrambling to protect so-called Dreamers confronted White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE on Tuesday night after he referred to some immigrants as “lazy."
 
 
During a visit to the Capitol earlier in the day, Kelly had touted President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN analyst Kirsten Powers: Melania's jacket should read 'Let them eat cake' CNN's Cuomo confronts Lewandowski over 'womp womp' remark Sessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance MORE’s offer to protect those eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the president rescinded in September. Kelly suggested that those who were eligible but declined to enroll were "too lazy."
 
“There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the president sent over what amounts to be two and half times that number, to 1.8 million,” Kelly said during his visit.
 
“The difference between 690 and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up.”
 
Activists on and off of Capitol Hill pounced on the remarks, arguing that many Dreamers avoided the DACA program for fear of revealing their immigration status to federal authorities.
 
“I don’t know the motive why all of those who could have didn’t apply. Some were afraid — very afraid,” Durbin said. “They’ve spent their whole lives saying, ‘Live in the shadows and don’t let the government know you’re here, because you’re undocumented.’ And it was scary for them to step up and sign up. And some of their parents begged them not to.
 
“I think that was the dominant reason that such a large number did not sign up.”
 
Durbin said Kelly’s remarks were raised during Tuesday’s meeting by Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse panel approves belated 2019 budget Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges —Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families MORE (D-Md.), the minority whip. Hoyer has been in the middle of the weeks-long negotiations between the deputy leaders of each chamber attempting to reach a DACA agreement before Trump’s March 5 deadline. The Republicans in those talks include McCarthy and Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis MORE (R-Texas). 
 
Afterwards, Hoyer declined to comment on the exchange.
 
“I’m not going to get into specific discussions,” he said, “because I don’t think that’d be helpful.”
 
Kelly, for his part, left the meeting still doubting the motives of those immigrants who failed to enroll in DACA, but used tamer language than he did earlier in the day. 
 
"I will take some points that, OK, some of them hadn't heard about it — hard to believe," he said. "And then I suppose there's another small percentage that didn't trust President Obama, which is kind of hard to believe."
 
“But that leaves a lot of people that I guess just didn't get around to signing up over a six-year period." 
 
Kelly characterized DACA recipients as "overwhelmingly good people.”
 
The Kelly controversy aside, the negotiators said Tuesday night’s talks yielded little progress. 
 
“There are still wide gaps between our positions, with the Republicans and with the White House,” said Durbin. “But we’ve agreed to keep talking, so we’ll be back at it tomorrow.”
 
Hoyer said the disagreement still revolves around what enforcement provisions should accompany the DACA protections. He’s been pushing a package that would combine the DACA language with tougher border security. Trump and the Republicans have recently insisted on two additional provisions: one reducing family-based immigration and another eliminating the diversity visa program.  
 
“There was some progress, in that we discussed specifics,” Hoyer said as he left the meeting. “No agreements.”
 
 
“We asked Cornyn that, and he either doesn’t know or at least he didn’t say,” Hoyer said. 
 
Durbin said he trusts McConnell to oversee a fair process. 
 
“Sen. McConnell promised that we would a have a level playing field … and I take him at his word,” he said. “I think it’ll be a shell bill of some nature that will give us an open opportunity to offer amendments.”