Trump borrows language directly from ‘Fox & Friends’ to fearmonger about immigrants

The president started his day by watching his favorite show and slamming California's governor.

President Trump (CREDIT: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Trump (CREDIT: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump began his Saturday by lashing out at California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), slamming the politician on immigration policy in an early morning tweet that appeared to quote directly from a graphic featured on the conservative talk show Fox & Friends.

“Governor Jerry ‘Moonbeam’ Brown pardoned 5 criminal illegal aliens whose crimes include (1) Kidnapping and Robbery (2) Badly beating wife and threatening a crime with intent to terrorize (3) Dealing drugs. Is this really what the great people of California want?” wrote the president on his Twitter account, tagging Fox News.

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(“Moonbeam” is a derisive nickname given to Brown decades ago in reference to his appeal among young, idealistic voters.)

Trump’s tweet refers to a series of pardons granted by Brown on Friday. The governor issued 56 pardons and 14 commutations in advance of the weekend, which marks the lead-up to Easter and the beginning of Passover.

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Five of those pardons included undocumented immigrants slated for deportation, most of whom were convicted of non-violent crimes, including drug-related offenses. The Sacramento Bee has reported that the crimes include spousal abuse, kidnapping, and theft in addition to drug charges. None include murder.

A comparison of Trump’s tweet to a graphic shown on Fox & Friends around the same indicates the president likely garnered his information from the program. Trump has historically live-tweeted Fox’s coverage, often early in the morning, with a particular emphasis on Fox & Friendswhich has a long history of inaccurate claims.

Saturday morning’s Fox & Friends featured a segment targeting Brown’s pardons, specifically those granted to the five immigrants scheduled for deportation — Daniel Maher, Sergio Mena, Francisco Acevedo Alaniz, Sokha Chhan, and Phann Pheach.

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“What we know about the felons,”  the graphic read, followed by bullet points including “kidnapping and robbery” and “dealing drugs.”

All give of the men pardoned by Brown have already served time behind bars. Several face deportation to countries they have never known despite active community service, volunteering, and appeals from family members and friends.

“He is the glue that holds his family together,” wrote Pheach’s wife, Sopeant Chuop, on a GoFundMe account raising money for her husband’s legal defense. “I am crumbling apart without my husband, who I have been with for over 10 years.” Born in a refugee camp in Thailand, Pheach, who came to the United States at the age of 1, faces deportation to Cambodia following detention over drug possession with intent to sell.

“These are individuals who have turned their lives around and deserve a second chance,” UCLA School of Law Professor Ingrid Eagly, who is representing two of the men, said following news of the pardons on Friday.

Eagly also noted the importance of the pardons, which come at a time of heightened tension over immigration. The White House has cracked down on immigrants across the country, scaling up raids and deportations, ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and targeting so-called sanctuary cities, where officials decline to fully comply with federal immigration demands over public safety concerns.

The governor’s pardons also had implications for another immigrant: former U.S. army paratrooper Hector Barajas, who was deported to Mexico in 2004 following a 2002 arrest for firing at a vehicle. Barajas, a decorated veteran who has received numerous accolades, will be permitted to return to the United States for his naturalization ceremony next month. In his pardon, Brown cited the work Barajas has done in Mexico helping other deported veterans.

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California’s resistance to the Trump administration’s immigration policies has sparked a deep rift. Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed suit against the state for its efforts to protect undocumented immigrants, arguing California is “using every power it has…to frustrate federal law enforcement.” Gov. Brown fired back that Sessions is “initiating a reign of terror” against Californians.

“This is basically going to war against the state of California, the engine of the American economy,” Brown said at the time. “It’s not wise, it’s not right and it will not stand.”