Hispanic Caucus chair blasts Kelly for 'bigoted comments'

Hispanic Caucus chair blasts Kelly for 'bigoted comments'
© Greg Nash

The chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus lashed out against White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE on Friday for comments he made about immigrants in the country illegally in an interview with NPR.

"The Chief of Staff’s bigoted comments about immigrants seeking refuge are a slap in the face to the generations of people who have come from foreign lands to contribute to the richness of our nation," said Rep. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamOvernight Energy: Proposed rule would roll back endangered species protections | House passes Interior, EPA spending | House votes to disavow carbon tax House votes to disavow carbon tax Dems call for family reunification plan from Trump administration MORE (D-N.M.).

In an NPR interview Thursday, Kelly said a majority of immigrants in the country illegally "don't integrate well."

"Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into the United States are not bad people. They're not criminals. They're not MS-13," said Kelly.

ADVERTISEMENT

"But they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society. They're overwhelmingly rural people," he added.

Lujan Grisham said "the intolerant and ignorant ideas he espoused from the White House are exactly the same comments and attitudes that were prevalent against all of our families."

"It wasn’t right then, and it isn’t right now. Our country is better than this," she added.

Kelly has had a fraught relationship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus since the beginning of the Trump administration, both as chief of staff and as secretary of Homeland Security.

He last butted heads with Hispanic Democrats in February, after he said some immigrants had been "too lazy" to apply for renewal of their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.