Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Wednesday that Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., slandered White House chief of staff John Kelly after Gutierrez called Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, a "disgrace to the uniform he used to wear."
Gutierrez released a statement critical of Kelly on Tuesday after the Trump administration announced it will rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by March 2018, giving Congress a six-month window to come up with a legislative solution for dealing with Dreamers protected from deportation under DACA.
"General Kelly is a hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear," Gutierrez said. "He has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House along with the white supremacists and those enabling the president's actions by ‘just following orders.'"
When asked about Gutierrez's comments on Kelly during a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday, Graham said the Illinois Democrat is "very emotional" about immigration reform, but called Gutierrez's remarks about Kelly "completely wrong" and "deplorable."
"What I would say to Mr. Gutierrez, sit down with a Republican in the House and try to find a solution instead of slandering Gen. Kelly," Graham said.
The South Carolina senator also said Kelly, who served as secretary of homeland security before becoming White House chief of staff in July, is well-equipped to discuss border security and immigration due to his role as former commander of U.S. Southern Command while he was in the Marine Corps.
"The slander against Gen. Kelly says more about Mr. Gutierrez than it does Gen. Kelly," Graham said. "And what Luis Gutierrez says or does is not going to be outcome-determinative. Gen. Kelly will be a leader here. Name one person in the county more qualified to talk about border security than John Kelly."
Graham said Congress has to do something to take care of the 800,000 Dreamers shielded from deportation under the DACA program, and said lawmakers have to both address border security and deal with those who were brought to the country illegally as children.
"You have to deal with the plight of the Dream Act kids, but you also have to start making a down payment on fixing the broken immigration system," Graham said. "So, Mr. Gutierrez, would you agree to a robust security, border security plan for the Dream Act? If you don't, then you're basically, you're the one trapping these kids into a bad life, not me, because we need to do two things — take care of the Dream Act kids and secure our border."