Latino lawmakers pushed back on comments by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly who described people who enter the U.S. illegally as undereducated, unskilled and unable to integrate into society.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair Michelle Lujan Grisham immediately blasted his comments as bigoted.
"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," Lujan Grisham said in a statement.
She went on to describe his comments as "intolerant and ignorant ideas" that have been lobbed at immigrants throughout history "against all of our families."
Kelly made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with National Public Radio. The interview aired on NPR, which also posted a full transcript.
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Kelly said people who move into the United States illegally are "not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society."
"They're overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from — fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don't speak English … They don't integrate well, they don't have skills," Kelly said.
He also had said that the vast majority are not bad people, not members of the violent MS-13 gang.
"It is sad that we have to continue to remind the administration that immigrants founded this country," Lujan Grisham stated. "Some arrived penniless and without an education but worked to find ways to prosper, revitalize communities and give back to the nation they love … His comments about immigrants and immigration policy betray this history and our values."
This is not the first time Kelly has been under fire for comments he's made related to immigration.
He was heavily criticized for saying people who were eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program were "too lazy to get off their asses."
Kelly made near similar remarks in the NPR interview, though added an explanation. Kelly said some 670,000 eligible migrants "for some reason didn't get around to registering."
Reminded by NPR of his previous comment, Kelly responded: "I believe that's a quote. But for whatever reason they didn't get off their butts."