When John Kelly made the transition from Secretary of Homeland Security to White House Chief of Staff, many observers had high hopes. At the time, the expectations hardly seemed unreasonable: perhaps the retired general’s commitment to public service would instill some much-needed maturity to Donald Trump and his chaotic West Wing.
It now seems more accurate to think Trump is dragging Kelly down to his level.
Some immigrants may have been “too afraid” or “too lazy” to sign up for the Obama-era program that offered protection from deportation, White House chief of staff John Kelly said Tuesday as he defended President Donald Trump’s proposal aimed at breaking the impasse on immigration.
In remarks to reporters, Kelly described Trump’s plan, which would provide a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million people – more than Democrats had sought. He noted extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was “beyond what anyone could have imagined.”
“There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million,” Kelly said, adding, “The difference between [690,000] 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.”
Part of the problem is Kelly’s crude – and according to some, offensive – rhetoric about Dreamers being “lazy” immigrants. But for those who don’t care about his language, there’s also the fact that Kelly’s description of the White House’s position on immigration is woefully incomplete.
To hear him tell it, Congress should be grateful for Trump’s magnanimous generosity. After all, the president graciously went “beyond what anyone could have imagined.” What Kelly neglected to mention is that the offer may be great for Dreamers, but the White House’s related demands – including billions of U.S. dollars for a border wall and major cuts to legal immigration – have made Trump’s blueprint a non-starter on Capitol Hill.
For that matter, Dreamers weren’t “too lazy to get off their asses.” Many couldn’t afford the application and renewal fees, and many more believed a mistake or a shift in the political winds could lead to their deportation.
Kelly apparently looked past these details.
Also yesterday, the White House chief of staff commented on the Democratic response to the Republicans’ Nunes memo, complaining that the Dems’ document was “lengthier” and “not as clean” as Republicans’.
All of this follows Kelly’s highly dubious calls to the Justice Department, in which he reportedly conveyed the president’s “expectations” to federal law enforcement officials.
That followed an incident from the fall in which Kelly lied about a House Democrat and refused to apologize. The White House soon after suggested it’s “highly inappropriate” to question Kelly’s word, even when he’s proven wrong.
Perhaps hopes for Kelly’s tenure in the West Wing were a little too high?