John Kelly, the current WH Chief of Staff and former Secretary of Homeland Security made news this week when he said that most Mexican immigrants do not assimilate well into American culture because they are rural, unskilled and do not speak English. For these reasons, Kelly believes they should be kept from entering the country and deported if they are undocumented, even if they have been here for decades with children who are U.S. citizens. Anyone who knows anything about the history of our country knows that these statements are flawed on multiple levels, but given the history of Kelly’s own family, even more ironic. Seven of Kelly’s eight great-grandparents were immigrants. Four came from Italy and three from Ireland. Contrary to what Kelly might want us to believe, people in the nineteenth century did not immigrate to America because they grew tired of their London mansions. They came to America for a better life – exactly the same reason they do today. Kelly’s ancestors were fruit peddlers, wagon drivers, and railroad workers. His own father was a post office worker. If Kelly’s preferred immigration policies were in place one hundred years ago, it is safe to say almost none of his ancestors would have been permitted to immigrate into America. We can try to have an intelligent debate about immigration policy, but lets at least start with a basic agreement on the facts.
Author: Gary Acosta
Gary Acosta is an entrepreneur, public policy advocate, investor, and thought leader passionate about advancing prosperity for Latinos and other underserved communities.