Racism is a feature, not a bug, for this administration.
Donald Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly showed the administration’s true colors when he insulted Dreamers by calling them “lazy.” And rather than walk back that racist remark, the White House is fully embracing it.
On Tuesday, Kelly told reporters that people who were eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) but failed to register were “too lazy to get off their asses,” then augmented that comment later in the day by saying that those Dreamers “just should have probably gotten off the couch and signed up.”
The following morning, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short got in on the act, reinforcing Kelly’s comments in an interview with MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson.
When Jackson confronted Short about Kelly’s remarks, he responded by changing the subject to the supposed generosity of Trump’s proposal. But under Trump’s framework, Dreamers would not have the same rights to sponsor family members that current citizens do, and he has demanded $30 billion for his border wall and other security measures.
Jackson quickly forced Short back on topic. “I talked to Dreamers after John Kelly made those comments, they were deeply offended,” she noted, adding that “one person told me he was disgusted that John Kelly would use that kind of language.”
“Hallie, 690,000 actually applied to the program,” Short sidestepped again. “If there were some that were afraid, we’re giving that additional leniency.”
“Sure, sure, fear, but not laziness,” Jackson interjected. “Is that a fair assessment? What does the White House think? Do they think that these immigrants …”
“I think that there’s both, I think that there’s both,” Short replied, and insisted again that Kelly “is their biggest advocate.
“Do you think undocumented immigrants are lazier than U.S. Citizens?” Jackson asked Short.
Short answered that Kelly wasn’t talking about the 690,000 Dreamers who applied for status, but that “he’s talking about some, a small category, who were too lazy to actually apply to the program.”
Many Dreamers feared registering for DACA, knowing that the program could be rescinded, and their cooperation with the program could then be used to round them up for deportation.
That’s exactly the prospect that DACA-eligible Americans now face if a deal is not reached.
The Trump White House’s message is simplistic and callous: “Good” immigrants like the well-regarded Dreamers are lazy and ungrateful, and that the rest are probably criminals. That’s hardly a stance meant to achieve a bipartisan compromise, but simply to stoke Trump’s resentful base and it’s coming across loud and clear.