WASHINGTON, DC — Illegal migrants are “victimized” by American agricultural and restaurant employers who hire and pay them “slave wages under the table,” declared U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly on Thursday.
During a discussion on Central America hosted by the international affairs think tank Atlantic Council, Kelly said:
The overwhelming number of people that come are good, decent people looking for a better way to make a living. The issue is though in many cases there’s also, and it pains me to say this as an American, they’re victimized when they get here by a system that doesn’t pay them enough money. In many cases, we look at, when we do take them in, they’re working for slave labor type whether it’s at an agricultural farm or cleaning pots and pans in probably a restaurant in Washington, D.C. They work for slave labor, slave wages under the table.
DHS Secretary Kelly, a retired Marine general, noted that President Donald Trump’s administration plans to invest American taxpayer funds on improving economic conditions in Central America to provide potential illegal migrants “a reason to stay home.”
“They don’t want to come here. In their view, they have to come here. Their families are in Central America. Their communities are in Central America. That’s where they go to church,” pointed out the secretary. “That’s where their friends are.”
“They come here for economic opportunity. iI we can change that equation and give them a reason to stay home, and we’re not talking about high tech jobs here, we’re talking about agricultural jobs, we’re talking about unskilled labor type… [the] garment industry as an example… labor intensive jobs,” he later said.
Kelly emphasized that the “overwhelming” majority of illegal migrants only come to the U.S. in search of an overall better life.
However, he added, “An awful lot of them, not a majority by no means — these are good people as a group — but because of a lot of different reasons, the young men are oftentimes in relatively large numbers drawn into crime. Not all of them, but some of them. MS-13 is full of people that have come here from the part of the world and are criminals.”
“An awful lot of the young women get taken into the other kinds of trade — sex trade, that kind of thing, not all of them, but many of them,” noted Kelly.
He said that fueling economic opportunities in Latin America would benefit U.S. border security.
“It’s the economics that we have to improve, and I believe we can help. We’re not talking huge money,” proclaimed the DHS leader. “We’re talking about maybe what it cost to run military operations for a day in Iraq.”
“If we can improve the conditions — the lot in life of Hondurans, Guatemalans, Central Americans — we can do an awful lot to protect the southwest border,” mentioned Kelly.