The pettiest thing I’ve ever heard Nikki Haley say

I refer, of course, to this quote regarding the unaccompanied Central American children, part of the flood that has precipitated a crisis on our southern border, who have been placed with relatives in South Carolina:

“You want me to educate them, right? And you want me to pay their health care, right? It does cost us something”…

First, let me say this: Since it upsets you so much, governor, let me assure you no one’s asking you to pay for this. The rest of us, the people of the United States (and if you’re right, of South Carolina) will pick up the tab. Don’t get your wallet out. And while I know there are plenty of people in our state who resent the children’s presence as much as our governor lets on to, I for one don’t mind the spare change that will be my share.

Second, those 350 children — if they stay, which remains to be seen — can be absorbed into a state of 4.7 million so completely as to be unnoticed. The federal government placed them here quietly and discreetly — which was the proper way; these kids have been through enough — and you likely wouldn’t know they were here had the feds not told you.

Third, I’m especially embarrassed that my governor said this at an RGA meeting in Colorado. It was bad enough for her to say it at home, much less in front of outsiders.

Now, in defense of Nikki Haley, she did say, in the midst of a bunch of other stuff expressing her great irritation at having these children underfoot, “We do care about these children. We do want them to be safe.” I like to think that’s the real Nikki Haley talking — or at the very least, someone who knows what is right, despite her real feelings, and feels compelled to give lip service.

But that just makes the rest of it sound that much worse, sets it in sharp relief. If you know better, how do you say such things?

Here’s how: It’s something you do when you have made a strategic decision to cater to the worst impulses in your constituency — the pettiest, most grasping, most miserly, least caring about the distress of a stranger. She is appealing to qualities that are the opposite of those exhibited by the Good Samaritan.

Reading her comments, a word popped into my head that I hadn’t thought of in years — niggardly. It’s a word people avoid today, because of its unfortunate resemblance to our language’s worst epithet. But it states the case.

Another point: I’m distressed that the governor is pressing the feds to tell where these children are. I heartily endorse this statement:

A note on Health and Human Services’ website says that the children’s privacy and safety are of “paramount importance. We cannot release information about individual children that could compromise the child’s location or identity.”…

Speaking of things I endorse, I’ll just end with what The State ended with:

“Why are we not recognizing that these children are facing imminent danger and families are doing what they can to get them out of that dangerous situation?” said Sue Berkowitz, director of the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center. “I’m astounded that America is behaving this way.”

God bless Sue Berkowitz, who day in and day out does whatever she can for the least of these. If only more of us were like her.

49 thoughts on “The pettiest thing I’ve ever heard Nikki Haley say

    1. Lawrence Ray

      I’m sure everything that is printed is 100% accurate. However, her comment isn’t petty. Its reality. There are plenty of people who care about the welfare of children. I’m one of them. However, there is a cost both short and long term. What bothers me about this is that no journalist is reporting the actual ages of these “children”. I’ve read various reports of anywhere between 50 to 90 percent of these people are not children at all. And that they aren’t actually alone. What is the real story? Then you might be able to provide some more context behind Haley’s reaction to what is ultimately a failure in Federal policy. Otherwise, you are just using this as an opportunity to wring your hands, position yourself on the ‘moral high ground’ and proclaim that the Governor and all who actually have to manage what is happening as uncaring jerks.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Actually, the people who “actually have to manage” this — the feds — are doing so, and don’t really need the governor hassling them and posturing on the subject.

        And they certainly don’t need the state to be demanding info on the kids’ identities and locations — especially after the ugly incident involving another Tea Party politician, Adam Kwasman

  1. Heidman

    Mr Warthen…

    Thank you for calling out the governor on this issue. Would that others might do the same for all those who clearly have no understanding of the word “humanitarian”. (Even her comment about wanting to “keep them safe” sounded sadly like Rick Perry’s statement last week: “… to humanitarianly (sic) take care of them, to make sure they are safe, to process them as quickly as you can, to reunite them with their families.”

    And, speaking of words, please consider making a small edit to your piece: change “its unfortunately resemblance” to “its unfortunate resemblance”.

    The admittedly minor typo distracts from the power (and important educational value) of the point you make about that perfectly good — and appropriate — word “niggardly”.

  2. Doug Ross

    How large would the number have to be before the governor should be concerned about the cost? 3500? 35000? She is the governor of the citizens of South Carolina. Not the head of a charity. She was not elected to care for illegal immigrants.

    Each child will likely require many years of public education and other assistance someone else must pay for. What other charitable contributions would you like me to make on your behalf?

    1. Doug Ross

      Previously, your argument was that the children would be placed on military bases and that it was none of her business. Now that it turns out that wasn’t true (as I predicted), apparently the argument is that it is none of her business because it’s ONLY 350 children (for now).

      What will you be doing personally to ensure the safety and well being of these 350 children? More than Nikki Haley or the same?

      1. Doug Ross

        We have tens of thousands of homeless veterans but some people are more interested in housing tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children on military bases. It’s a screwed up country we live in.

        1. bud

          Doug, show me one person, just one, who is interested in housing tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children on military bases but do not want to afford the same humanitarian courtesy to homeless veterans. We’re talking 350 kids who are escaping from a horrible, violent circumstance who merely want a better way of like. These kids aren’t going to infiltrate Blythewood and turn it into a slum. They will likely grow up to be productive, hard-working members of society. Many will serve in the military.

      2. Brad Warthen

        And when, on a previous post, you pointed out that they were being farmed out individually to relatives and other sponsors, my reply was, how much BETTER than warehousing them in military barracks. And that is still my reaction. They should be with family, whenever possible…

  3. bud

    Since there is a discussion about plagiarism I’ll borrow part of the poem inscribed in the Statue of Liberty to give my views on this issue:

    “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      1. Doug Ross

        And, bud, can you list the government programs that were in place to provide aid to immigrants when the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886? Let’s let every immigrant in who abides by the same conditions, okay?

        My great grandparents didn’t get a dime from the government when they immigrated LEGALLY from Finland.

        1. Jack O'Toole

          “And, bud, can you list the government programs that were in place to provide aid to immigrants when the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886? ”

          Okay, I’ll bite. How about the Homestead Act?

        2. Matt Bohn

          Just four years later Jacob Riis helped start the Progressive Movement with his shocking photos of poor immigrants. The government began to step in after public outrage and began to supply adequate sanitation and food safety measures among other things. 40 odd years later we get the New Deal and the real beginnings of a large federal government responsible for the welfare of the people. Then 30 years later, the war on poverty and the Great Society further cemented the government’s new role as protector of the poor. We aren’t the same country we were in 1886 or 1932 or 1964. There’s no going back. Just like the 350 children coming to SC. That’s why we should be compassionate rather than spiteful.
          My own great-grandparents fled poverty in Bohemia and raised the 6 children they had who survived infancy in an 800 square foot house. My great grandfather worked at the Heinz factory in Pittsburgh. Now my family is completely assimilated into mainstream culture and are working and supporting the country. The same thing will happen to these children and we’ll all be the better for it.
          Everything’s going to be OK.

        3. scout

          My great x6 grandfather got free land from the government of South Carolina in what became Prosperity when he and his family emigrated here from Northern Ireland in 1772.

      2. Kathryn Braun Fenner

        The impact of one child on a normal household is huge! Our state absorbing the costs of educating a few thousand, not so much. I bet the Feds will reimburse, anyway, as they did when they located the Savannah River Laboratory and Plant. Growing up, we had to take home a little card for our parents to fill in who their employers were, and the Feds reimbursed for those of us who were Duponters

        1. Doug Ross

          It costs around 10K tax dollars per student per year for public education. Multiply that by the number of years these kids will be in school. Then multiple that by “thousands”. Let’s say it’s 1000 new students with an average of eight years of school. That’s 80 MILLION dollars — just for the schooling part of it. What about the healthcare? How about any food stamps?

          I know we’re a rich state with plenty of excess funds in the coffers, so absorbing tens of millions of dollars of cost is no problem.

  4. Karen Pearson

    No one is asking any of us to take in, and care for a child. But several thousand can surely pitch in enough each to ensure his/her care. I, for one, am willing.

    1. Doug Ross

      And that’s all I would suggest – is that those who are willing to support them do so. Not through tax dollars. Tax dollars are meant for citizens. These children require charity.

      1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

        Tax dollars are meant for the community, citizen or not. Noncitizens pay taxes, too.

  5. Norm Ivey

    There’s no quick way to process 55,000 kids and the additional 55,000 in family units that have crossed. These 350 kids are better off with their families or sponsors than they are living in a tent or a FEMA trailer somewhere. Law and humanity compel us to care for them–including educating and attending to their health needs while they are here. I have a hard time understanding the callousness and venom that so many express towards these people.

  6. Doug Ross

    What is the limit, Norm? If it’s not 350, what is it? How many non English speaking students should Richland 2 absorb? There are finite resources. How much more will each of you contribute?

    I would like took see Kathryn’s statement about tax dollars going to illegal immigrants proven. Will Vincent Sheheen agree and go on the record that tax dollars areally for non citizens benefit?

      1. Doug Ross

        So you can point me to a statute that says tax dollars may be spent on the care for illegal immigrants for an indefinite period of time?

        1. Heidman

          I don’t believe Kathryn said tax dollars were for “illegal immigrants” — she said tax dollars were “for the community, citizen or not.” Then she noted that “non-citizens pay taxes, too.” “Non-citizen” is not a synonym for “illegal immigrant” and, indeed, an enormous number of non-citizens do pay taxes.

          1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

            I am fighting vertigo now, but a simple google search will show what taxes support services to every resident, lawful or no. Police and fire, education for children, emergency health care…..Legal research into statutes, regs., and case law requires access to databases I do not readily have.

            1. Doug Ross

              Come on.. there is a difference between paying for police and fire departments and spending money SPECIFICALLY on non-citizens welfare beyond processing them for deportation or determining that they are allowed to stay based on asylum reasons.

              Which line item in my property tax bills for homes and cars goes to educating and caring for illegal immigrants long term?

              Which department in the state government is funded to do the same?

    1. Norm Ivey

      I don’t know what the limit is. I’m pretty sure the districts in south Texas can’t absorb 55,000 or more, which is a good reason to spread them around some. These people coming across now are not migrant workers–they are people fleeing desperate situations. And if they are not, they should be sent back as soon as possible, but we should evaluate each situation individually.

      I appreciate your argument about finite resources, but this is a humanitarian crisis, not an annual budget item. A nation as wealthy as the United States can absorb those costs. We find the resources to help people affected by tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. We can find the resources to help these people as well.

  7. Doug Ross

    The only term I can come up with to describe those who think tax dollars should be spent caring for illegal immigrants is “disconnected compassion”. It’s all about someone else doing the tough work and thinking that a few bucks from your tax dollars is evidence of your compassion. If you really cate about these kids, prove it.

    1. Doug Ross

      I know Brad speaks Spanish and has a big hearted wife… why not save one of these kids?

  8. Harry Harris

    Sometimes I think that if Native Americans had a stricter immigration policy 500 years ago, they wouldn’t have had so much trouble from us white folks.
    I am always amazed that people who profess compassion with their mouths seem to deny it with their actions. Compassion as a feeling is little more than a thought. Compassion that becomes action for the benefit of the person in need makes a positive difference for the doer and the receiver.
    Although not sharing information on the locations of the migrants being housed while awaiting processing seems strange, the reactions of many of the people Gov Haley is obviously pandering toward is predictable and not needed. Look at what greeted some of the children out west when local politicians played on the opportunity to use them as Governor Haley is attempting to. Brad is both correct and courageous to point out the phoniness, crassness, and emptiness.

    1. Doug Ross

      Taxes do not equal compassion. I give more personally to all sorts of people and charities than I bet most of the liberals on this blog do. I have never turned down a personal request for help.

      But sitting at a computer and judging the compassion of a governor based on her duties as head of the state is wrong. Her first obligation it’s to the citizens of South Carolina. And if that’s all YOU do to address this crisis than you aren’t doing anything at all. Prove it if you mean it. I am sure there are charities that can help these kids once placed. Donate to them first before you criticize Haley.

      1. Harry Harris

        If Governor Haley were concerned about protecting the citizens of this state financially and fiscally, she would have set up an insurance exchange and expanded Medicaid. She’s pandering to the anti-tax, anti-Government constituency that put her into office. She has no idea who will pay for the medical care of these children or whether they will attend school or not. If one of their families takes a child to a doctor, what government program will pay the bill? She got up before her cohort of Republican Governors and made a calculated, NIMBY statement meant to criticize the federal government. She then said she cared for the children’s welfare without any suggestion as to how to make “care” equal action. Where are her “better ideas” she proclaimed for providing health care to the working poor left out by her refusal to expand Medicaid? It sitll consists of too-late, uncompensated care dumped (shifted) onto the bills of everyone who pays medical bills or insurance.

        1. Doug Ross

          She has no idea because the federal government won’t tell her. And the likely reason for that is because they are being placed with families that are already here illegally. The Obama administration is supporting immigrants living in the shadows.

        2. Doug Ross

          Expanding Medicaid comes with a price. She offered an alternative. There are finite resources.

  9. Doug Ross

    Why doesn’t the U.S. offer asylum to all children in the Gaza strip? I would have no problem with that.

  10. O

    “illegal immigrant children” – Doug, you may want to use the proper term “refugee children” as there is a difference under the law. We seem to forget what has happened over the last few decades of US policy and practice in Central America. “Do not plow in the furrows of injustice for fear of reaping a sevenfold crop” – there is a price to be paid.
    I know it’s hard for some in Sunday School to connect Christ’s parables to present day situations calling for Christian charity as a quote “Christian Nation,” but I have more respect every day for Pope Francis and am grateful he spoke up for the kids. Please don’t give me that tax payer junk. My tax dollars went to buying a couple of bombs last year that were just exploded in Afghanistan – one heck of an “investment.”

  11. Doug Ross

    From Yahoo News:

    “According to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), there was a backlog of 375,503 cases in the immigration court system as of the end of June. That’s more than twice the number of pending cases in 2008. It also translates into an average wait time, according to TRAC, of 587 days for an initial hearing, with wait times in some jurisdictions averaging much longer.

    In Omaha, for instance, the average case takes 839 days to get in front of a judge. In Los Angeles, it’s 820, and in Phoenix it’s 808. And these are just averages. Immigration activists report some children waiting three to five years for a hearing. Worse yet, in some cases, the initial hearing is only part of the process; some drag on for years even after they first come before a judge.

    Part of the reason is that the federal immigration court system is gravely understaffed when considering the magnitude of the task in front of it. There are currently about 243 immigration judges, or one to every 1,545 pending cases. This means that families in Central America who send their children north can report to friends and neighbors that those kids are in the United States and aren’t coming back anytime soon, creating an incentive for other parents to send their children on the perilous trip.”

    1. Harry Harris

      Yahoo doesn’t have news. It almost exclusively aggregates stuff from different sources, often puttiing opinion pieces from the Cato Institute next to a news report from the AP. The backlog and under-resourcing referenced is a big reason why Pres Obama has asked for special emergency funding to deal with the issue.

      1. Doug Ross

        Once again, you seem to worry about the source versus the content. If you only get your news from DailyKos and, you’re probably missing out on the real world.

        1. Harry Harris

          I hesitated to include the first part of my post because it might distract from my second statement that referenced the content. Apparently it did.

          1. Doug Ross

            No distraction. Your bias overwhelms any points you try to make. The backlog is BECAUSE of Obama’s open door policies. It’s like paying for pool repairs after you’ve taken a sledge hammer to the side of the pool.

            1. O

              It’s all because of the black guy. Would that we might recall history and pray that all who desire pools might receive them. Will light a candle to St Jude for empathy and compassion. Or better yet, just have another beer!

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