'Bigoted': Latino lawmakers blast Kelly on immigration remarks

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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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks on his phone in a hallway outside the room where U.S. President Donald Trump was meeting with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivers speech at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) before a briefing on hurricane relief efforts in a hangar at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about immigration reform at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about border security during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (C) stands in an adjacent cabin as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the press cabin aboard Air Force One on his way to Washington after viewing damage from Hurricane Irma in Florida, U.S. September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (R) attend Kuwait's Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and U.S. President Donald Trump's news conference after their meetings at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly stands before a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (R) arrives with fellow staff to board Air Force One with U.S. President Trump for travel to New Jersey from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly looks down at his phone as he boards Air Force One in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S., hours after it was announced that Trump Senior Adviser Steve Bannon left the administration August 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly looks on as he listens to Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong (not pictured) delivering a joint message at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly arrives to Secretary of Interior Building before addressing the media, in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly leans on the Resolute Desk during a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks during a daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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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."

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