The influx of young Central American refugees across the U.S. border is a serious issue that needs a serious policy response. Politicians should be focused on ensuring that these children are treated humanely, and working on sound immigration reform. But, unsurprisingly, many on the right have chosen this time to spout ignorant, offensive rhetoric about these undocumented children.
Here are five of the worst comments politicians have made about migrant children.
Arizona congressional candidate Adam Kwasman
Kwasman was so desperate to find an excuse to protest the incoming refugees that he thought a bus full of children on their way to a YMCA camp actually was transporting immigrants.
When he saw a yellow school bus pulling up while he was at a protest, he tweeted, “Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law.”
He then told KPNX-TV reporter Brahm Resnik, “I was actually able to see some of the children in the buses. The fear on their faces … this is not compassion.”
It’s unclear why Kwasman would think that giving children a place to sleep and eat is “not compassion.” But it’s also unclear why he thought the children were scared; reporter Will Pitts says the campers were laughing and taking photos of the news crews.
Kwasman didn’t realize his mistake until Resnik had to “break it to [him].”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Gohmert is using the crisis to make a statement on the War on Women — that is, the war waged by the “criminal aliens” who have entered the United States solely to sexually assault American women.
According to Gohmert, undocumented people have committed 2,993 homicides in the past six years, as well as 7,695 sexual assaults. So obviously these children are headed here to go on a mass-murder rampage.
“You want to talk about a war on women? This administration will not defend the women of America from criminal aliens! By the thousands, and hundreds of thousands,” Gohmert said on the House floor on Tuesday.
“Well, we know thousands. And we know people are coming in by the hundreds of thousands illegally. And this administration wants to talk about other people having a war on women when they will not defend the women that are being sexually assaulted by illegal aliens in this country.”
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA)
Last week, Gingrey wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control warning that the Central American refugees could bring a plague upon the United States.
“Reports of illegal immigrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning,” he wrote.
But there’s no evidence that these children are carrying diseases. Especially not Ebola, which has only ever made people sick in sub-Saharan Africa.
Children in Central America are actually more likely than children in Texas to be vaccinated against infectious disease. According to The Texas Observer, Guatemala has universal health care and 100 percent of children get vaccinated. But in Texas, 1 in 6 children are uninsured, making it harder for their families to pay for vaccinations. Vaccinations which, as it happens, are opposed by Gingrey.
Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL)
Nugent doesn’t see the unaccompanied minors as children, but as dangerous gang members. Since they come from violent environments, he concludes that they will perpetuate that violence in the United States and should therefore be sent back to their gang-infested countries.
“A lot of these children … quote-unquote … ya know, the first caller mentioned it, ya know, they’re gang members. They’re gang affiliated,” he said on WOCA radio Monday.
“Listen, if you’re 14, 15, 16, 17 years old, and you’re coming from a country that’s gang-infested — particularly with MS-13 types, that is the most aggressive of all the street gangs — when you have those types coming across the border, they’re not children at that point. These kids have been brought up in a culture of thievery. A culture of murder, of rape. And now we are going to infuse them into the American culture. It’s just ludicrous.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Bachmann took the irrational fear that migrant children must be dangerous and violent a step further, by actually blaming them for an incident that happened years ago.
“My heart is broken for a female college student in Minnesota who was raped, murdered and mutilated by a foreign national who came into our country,” she said on CNN’s Crossfire on Tuesday. “We had a school bus full of kids in Minnesota — four children were killed on that school bus because an illegal alien driving a van went into that school bus.”
Crossfire co-host Van Jones pushed back. “There are lines that can’t be crossed here,” he said. “I’m sorry, Congresswoman. Are you gonna scapegoat children for the crime of this despicable person?”
According to The Raw Story, Bachmann was likely referring to an accident in 2008, where an illegal immigrant crashed into a bus, resulting in four deaths.
“We should stand with those children, but we should not scapegoat every one of these kids for that despicable crime,” Jones told Bachmann. “You know better as a congressperson than to lay at the feet of these children the acts of a despicable criminal.”
So Bachmann naturally had to bring it back to jobs. “Don’t scapegoat the American people,” she said. “Van, don’t scapegoat the American people right now who are losing jobs.”
The Crossfire interview can be seen above.
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