California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris is not impressed with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
Nielsen was nominated by the president to serve in her present position after Trump appointed his first Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, to serve as his chief of staff. She has this week found herself at the center of a controversy over the president having been credibly alleged to use racist obscenities to refer to countries including Haiti, El Salvador, and some African nations.
Nielsen insists not only that she has no recollection of the president having used the specific obscene language in question but also that the president is reasonable in the demands that he has been making for a merit-based immigration system.
In the course of her remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, she said that Trump’s apparent interest in prioritizing European immigrants above those from Africa was because of him having learned of how hardworking that they are.
Sen. Harris, when it was her turn to question Nielsen, seized on these comments because of the implication that prospective immigrants from Africa are not similarly hardworking.
As she put it:
‘When we are having discussions about whether the people of Norway… You spoke about how they were referred to by contrast to the people of… the 54 countries of Africa and Haiti… and you’ve spoke of them according to the president as “The people of Norway, well you know they work very hard.” The inference being the people of the 54 states of Africa and Haiti do not. That is a fair inference.’
Sen. Harris also went after Nielsen over her trying to get around the administration’s apparent racism by saying she didn’t know if Norway is, in fact, predominately white.
As Sen. Harris put it while speaking to Nielsen:
‘You run the Department of Homeland Security and when you say you don’t know if Norway is predominately white when asked by a member of the United States Senate, that causes me concern about your ability to understand the scope of your responsibilities and the impact of your words — much less the policies that you promulgate in that very important department.’
At the conclusion of her opening remarks about Nielsen, Sen. Harris went after her over her seeming to ignore the problem of white supremacy fueled terrorism in the United States.
Sen. Harris said:
‘You opened by talking about a number of statistics that paint the threats the country faces from terrorism… The study you mention, however, leaves out some of the most rampant terror attacks that we’ve seen lately which are domestic acts of terror… White supremacist extremists are responsible for 49 homicides and 26 attacks from the year 2000 to 2016 — more than any other domestic extremist movement. It is deeply troubling that in your opening comments, when you talk about the threats to… national security that you failed to mention a report that outlined a very specific threat to us as the American people.’
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Nielsen eventually defended herself by claiming that the comments zeroed in on by Sen. Harris about Norway were simply repeated statements from the Norwegian delegation to the U.S.
Trump met with Norwegian leadership last Wednesday, the day before the contentious meeting where he allegedly uttered racist obscenities.
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