South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg expressed support for giving illegal immigrants reparations on Thursday, but he stopped short of making the same promise to African Americans.
Buttigieg, who has struggled to make inroads with black voters in his quest to become commander in chief, was asked at the Democrat presidential primary debate if he would commit to giving “financial compensation” to illegal immigrants separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. When responding, the mayor not only asserted his administration would pay reparations, but also promised that illegal immigrant families separated at the border would have a “fast track to U.S. citizenship.”
“We have a moral obligation to make right what was broke,” Buttigieg said, proceeding to claim his tenure as mayor had thought him about the necessity of reforming the country’s immigration system.
When pressed further, the mayor asserted his commitment to reparations for illegal aliens, but stopped short of extending the same compensation to descendants of slavery.
Buttigieg, in particular, touted his support for federal legislation creating a commission to study the feasibility of reparations for black Americans. The mayor, however, did not say he favored such compensation, arguing the legacy of slavery was monetarily immeasurable. He said:
We’re talking about mending what was broke. We’re talking about the generational theft of the wealth of generations of African Americans and just crossing out a racist policy and replacing it with a neutral one is not enough to deliver a fallen harms compound just like $1 saved in its value compounds over time.
“So what is the value of $1 stolen,” Buttigieg added, before suggesting the U.S. government invest in minority owned business and historically black universities instead.
The comments come as the mayor has recently admitted he has struggled to understand the experience of many black Americans, despite leading a city that is nearly 30 percent African American for the past eight years.