So much of being a public face of Donald Trump's administration involves defending the indefensible. And few are smoother at it than White House Counselor and Lululemon Marketing Demographic Kellyanne Conway. Usually.
Conway was participating in a Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit forum Wednesday when a writer for the magazine, Michal Lev-Ram, confronted her about the administration's rhetoric and policies on immigration reform in as direct and harsh a way as I can recall seeing:
LEV-RAM: You and President Trump have repeatedly talked about immigrants as criminals. Yet statistics show that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are less likely to commit crimes than people born here in this country. You've also talked about them in the context of taking jobs from people who are born here, and I'd like to point out that the most entrepreneurial demographic is foreign-born. So can you please explain what good the restrictions you're proposing on immigration, the anti-immigrant rhetoric you've put forward, does other than foment division in our country?
CONWAY: That's your perspective.
This is not a “perspective.” Statistics do show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Immigrants make up an enormous percentage of America's entrepreneurs. These are facts, not opinions.
Conway tried to answer by pointing out the president just released his 70-point plan for immigration reform, which has nothing to do with refuting any of the facts Lev-Ram gave her:
“We want to make sure that the unaccompanied minors are cared for and are returned safely to their home countries.”
Minors who show up unaccompanied at the border are often refugees from violence in the Central American nations of their origin. So returning them “safely to their home countries” is possibly the last thing we want to do if we are concerned about their safety:
“I find it very elitist and arrogant when people say, and plenty of Republicans and Democrats have said the following: that illegal immigrants are here to do the jobs that Americans don't want to do. That's really unfair when I personally know people that are looking for jobs and are willing to do jobs, but they can't take $6 under the table.”
Is Conway making an argument for higher wages? Because I know of no one who would not support that:
“Nobody can deny that in some cases, folks who have deported and committed crimes many times like Kate Steinle's murderer, she should be a household name and nobody wants to make her that. I've met face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder with the parents of children who were killed, or in some cases murdered, by those who have been deported and who should not have been here.”
Again, this does not address the question. The statistics show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Which means there are more parents of people murdered by other Americans than who were killed by immigrants.
Kate Steinle's murder was a tragedy. Conway wrapping herself in it as a shield to avoid having to confront the facts Rav-Lem gave her is simply disgusting.
Watch the entire back-and-forth in the video below.