President Donald Trump continued his string of fabrications and misrepresentations regarding the political debate about immigration on Friday, alleging in a tweet that Democrats “are coming to the defense of MS 13 thugs, saying that they are individuals & must be nurtured.”
Democrats are so obviously rooting against us in our negotiations with North Korea. Just like they are coming to the defense of MS 13 thugs, saying that they are individuals & must be nurtured, or asking to end your big Tax Cuts & raise your taxes instead. Dems have lost touch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2018
Trump’s tweet comes two days after he held a round-table focused on the MS-13 gang on Long Island, and claimed that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “came out in favor” of the gang.
“The other day, Nancy Pelosi came out in favor of MS-13,” Trump said. “That’s the first time I’ve heard that. She wants them to be treated with respect, as do other Democrats. That’s not going to be happening.”
Trump alludes to his "animals" comment, says, "The other day, Nancy Pelosi came out in favor of MS-13. That's the first time I've heard that. She wants them to be treated with respect, as do other Democrats. That's not going to be happening." pic.twitter.com/qUCJyznQ8c
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 23, 2018
Trump is blatantly lying. Pelosi never “came out in favor” of MS-13. Instead, she pushed back on Trump’s recent characterization of MS-13 members as “animals” by making a case that dehumanizing people is a bad thing, especially when the person doing it is the president.
“When the president of the United States says about undocumented immigrants, ‘these are not people, these are animals,’ you have to wonder, does he not believe in the spark of divinity? In the dignity and worth of every person?” Pelosi said during a news conference on May 17. “Every day you think you’ve seen it all, along comes another manifestation of why their policies are so inhumane… Calling people animals is not a good thing.”
In short, Pelosi was merely making the point that no person deserves to be dehumanized in such a manner. But Trump dishonestly fabricated her comment into an endorsement of violent gangsters.
Trump’s Friday morning tweet about Democrats purportedly believing MS-13 members “must be nurtured” illustrates how he launders lies. The president makes up quotes, then — with help from Fox News and Republican members of Congress — keeps repeating them in hopes people will eventually come to believe they’re real.
With regard to immigration specifically, Trump thinks race-baiting is effective politics. Consider this paragraph from a Washington Post report published Friday about a meeting Trump had with administration officials in February 2017, just before his first speech to Congress:
Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he was at a rally, he then read aloud a few made up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, like rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later. Miller and Kushner laughed.
Trump employed that strategy during the round-table discussion about MS-13 earlier this week, describing grisly crimes in detail to suggest that some undocumented immigrants are savages.
“MS-13 members are accused of stabbing a man 100 times, decapitating him, and ripping out his heart,” Trump said at one point. “Police officers also believe the MS-13 members beat a sex trafficked 15-year-old girl with a bat 28 times, totally disfiguring a beautiful young woman. In Texas, two MS-13 gang members were charged after kidnapping, drugging, and raping a 14-year-old girl. They then murdered her and somebody else.”
“They aren’t people. These are animals. And we have to be very, very tough,” he added.
But about 45 minutes into the event, the hysteria of Trump’s fear-mongering was accidentally exposed by Suffolk County police commissioner Geraldine Hart, who noted that there hasn’t been an MS-13-linked homicide in Suffolk County in more than a year.
And while Trump described Long Island as “almost like an occupied territory where your children are afraid to go out” and blamed MS-13, crime statistics don’t back him up. According to the Washington Post, “there were 37 homicides in all of Nassau and Suffolk counties in 2017 — the entirety of Long Island east of New York City. That total was down from 59 the year before. The counties are home to 2.8 million people.”
In general, studies show that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at rates lower than the general population. But instead of acknowledging reality, Trump’s Department of Justice has cherry-picked examples in hopes of creating a false perception that immigrants are to be feared.