President Donald Trump isn’t backing away from his administration’s brutal campaign against immigrants, using his weekly taped address to conflate immigrant children with gang members, to blame Democrats for abetting “slaughter,” and to suggest that middle school kids are “animals.”
“Americans must demand their lawmakers support the legislation we need to defeat MS-13 once and for all, and to ensure every American child in every American community can grow up in safety, and grow up in security, and in peace.” pic.twitter.com/lZricJih8H
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 16, 2018
The timing of a fear-mongering address like this is calculated: The public conversation on immigration has been dominated in recent days by the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border, even when seeking amnesty. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy April 6, and almost 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since the Department of Homeland Security began ramping up the practice in May, according to the Associated Press.
So while the public expresses its outrage over the policy of family separation, Trump finds it an opportune time to whip up anxiety about a specter of violence and conflate immigrants with violent gang members.
“[Thousands of MS-13 gang members … have infiltrated our country so illegally and so violently,” he says, hinting that the same immigrants who are in the news — for being separated from their children as they seek amnesty in the U.S. — are “illegal” and somehow violent.
It’s an obvious lie: immigrants kids aren’t dangerous, and there is no legitimate reason to separate them from their parents and hold them like prisoners.
Trump and his media surrogates have been pushing the lie that this “law” has been on the books for some time, that it’s Democrats who support family separation, and that Democrats — in a glaring contradiction that the administration still can’t square — are actually helping gang members.
“The gang member [accused of murder] reportedly entered our country through glaring loopholes for unaccompanied alien minors,” says the president, offering no facts to support such a lie. “The Democrats allow those loopholes to be there. They could change them so easily but they don’t want to do that for strictly political reasons.”
Trump, at the end of his address, finally gives up the game: It’s the administration, and Republicans, who are actively pressing this narrative that immigrants are dangerous.
The policies are likely to stay in place unless Republicans face enough pressure to break with Trump and work with Democrats to protect immigrants from cruel acts like family separation. But Trump is comfortable with the status quo: After all, he ran on an anti-immigrant platform, and announced his candidacy by calling Mexican immigrants rapists.
At the end, Trump looks directly into the camera and tries to get Americans on board with his xenophobic policy. “You want me to keep it that way,” he says. Actually, we don’t.