John Kelly has been an accomplice to Trump’s white supremacist agenda from day one
Attribution: Getty Images
White House chief of staff John Kelly leading an attack on a black Gold Star family and a black Congresswoman shouldn’t come as a shock—during his short six month tenure at the Department of Homeland Security, Kelly unshackled federal immigration agents and helped usher in such an unprecedented era of terror targeting brown communities that immigrants aren’t reporting when they’ve been the victims of rape out of fear of exposing their immigration status. The fact is that John Kelly has been an accomplice to Donald Trump’s white supremacist agenda from day one. The New York Times:
This past summer, the Trump administration debated lowering the annual cap on refugees admitted to the United States. Should it stay at 110,000, be cut to 50,000 or fall somewhere in between? John F. Kelly offered his opinion. If it were up to him, he said, the number would be between zero and one.
Mr. Kelly not only expressed willingness to curb refugees coming into the country — in the end, Mr. Trump lowered the cap to 45,000 — he embraced Mr. Trump’s various attempts to close the border to visitors from a group of predominantly Muslim countries. He aggressively turned up the heat on internal immigration enforcement, stepping up deportation of undocumented immigrants, even those without serious criminal records, reversing an Obama administration policy.
Under Mr. Kelly’s leadership, the Department of Homeland Security also went after undocumented parents who bring their children into the country. He directed immigration officials to lodge smuggling charges against the parents, saying they were putting children in danger.
“Kelly has been an enabler of Trump’s mission,” said Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant homeland security secretary under Mr. Obama. “Judge him that way.”
Despite suggestions that Kelly’s military credentials somehow make him immune to criticism, it’s Kelly who personally lashed out at critics of his deportation force, telling the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Asian Pacific American Caucus, Sens. Kamala Harris, Mazie Hirono, and Catherine Cortez Masto—you get one guess what they all have in common—to “shut up.” Far too many pitched Kelly as a “beacon of discipline” and “plainspoken disciplinarian” despite activists long sounding the alarm that Kelly was no different than his boss—thin-skinned, a liar, and a racist.
The New York Times details further racial incidents “that foreshadowed his attack last week on Representative Frederica S. Wilson,” though notably missing from this list are the recent reports showing that it was Kelly, as DHS head, who ordered the internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) smear campaign to portray the undocumented immigrants they were sweeping up around the country—many of whom had no criminal record at all—as dangerous. Trump had an anti-immigrant and anti-Latino narrative to get out, and Kelly helped him orchestrate it:
At a dinner including Mr. Trump and the Democratic leaders Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, Mr. Kelly gave an extended critique of Mexico, calling it a third-world country in danger of collapsing the way Venezuela has and arguing that the United States needed to guard itself against that, according to people informed about the conversation.
As a cabinet officer, Mr. Kelly frequently lashed out at critics. In March, during a meeting with members of Arab and Muslim communities in Dearborn, Mich., Mr. Kelly threatened to walk out after being posed hard questions about the travel ban and what participants saw as the targeting of Muslim Americans at ports of entry, according to people in attendance.
Mr. Kelly has also engaged in testy public debates with Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California. During a June meeting, Ms. Harris and Mr. Kelly engaged in a contentious back-and-forth as she questioned him about Trump administration threats to cut off funding for so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
These incidents were in the past but Kelly’s short tenure in DHS is still having devastating aftereffects on immigrants. Just this week in Texas,Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents stalked and detained 10-year-old Rosamaria Hernandez, a special needs child with cerebral palsy, after she was being taken by ambulance to a children’s hospital for gallbladder surgery and had to go through a Border Patrol checkpoint. So much for targeting only “bad hombres.”
In Oregon the week before that, ICE agents illegally entered a home to arrest a housepainter, claiming that “we don’t need a warrant to come in this home. No one lives here.” The man was later released. And, under Kelly’s eye as White House chief of staff, Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and went on a rampage against San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, threatening to pull FEMA out of Puerto Rico altogether despite millions of brown U.S. citizens still lacking clean water and electricity.
“John Kelly has shown us he’s not the ‘adult in the room,’” tweeted David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “He’s a co-conspirator.” It brings to mind an old Mexican proverb: “Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres”—”Tell me with whom you walk and I’ll tell you who are.” Well, we know who John Kelly is walking with.