Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen fought off claims that President Trump is a racist based on his comments about immigrants from poorer nations and a court decision blocking the end of DACA based on racial animus.
Nielsen said on “Fox News Sunday” she was offended by claims that Trump is a racist in the wake of him referring to poorer nations as “shithole countries” in a White House meeting. A federal judge also blocked his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, because it was based on racial animus against Latinos.
Nielsen said that’s simply not true.
“I find that offensive on its face,” she said. “I took an oath when I became secretary of homeland security to defend and support the Constitution. The program was unconstitutional. What we should be focused on instead of these court interventions and these distractions is that we need a permanent solution.”
“We have said that, I have said that, the president has said that. We want to find a permanent solution to the DACA population.”
She added later Trump’s broader point is that immigration should be based on merit and not based on a quota system.
“The president is saying is he would like to move to merit-based, based on individuals. Whether individuals can come here and contribute to our society, help our economy and assimilating communities and help America be better,” she said.
“I take a little bit of offense to the comments and suggestions that the president is racist. He's looking at the exact merit-based system they have in Australia and Canada. I'm sure that we are not, any of us, suggesting that Australia and ... Canada['s] leaders are racist.”
Nielsen, who was in the meeting at the White House where Trump reportedly made his “shithole countries” comment, said she did not recall him using the phrase.
“I don't recall him saying that exact phrase. I think he has been clear and I would certainly say undoubtedly the president will use, continue to use strong language when it comes to this issue,” she said.