As he’s failed at the novel coronavirus pandemic response, impeached president Donald Trump returned to Arizona on Tuesday to give a “speech” that tried to paint Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as some sort of extremist on issues like immigration policy. (Tried is the key word.) Instead, Trump’s 40-something-minute rant only continued to showcase his own authoritarianism and racism, including illegally blocking and expelling asylum-seeking children at the border. But there was also plenty of stupid during his Yuma visit: Long after Americans have already started paying for his stupid and racist wall, Trump again insisted Mexico would foot the bill.
Trump’s speech kicked off his rant by touting the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council union, which also endorsed him in 2016. The organization itself had said at the time that it “had a longstanding practice of not endorsing presidential candidates in the primaries,” but candidate Trump was just the kind of racist that border agents have been longing for. And when they’ve already had no issue with stomping on U.S. law, what’s the harm in stomping on a pesky little tradition?
These agents have “been my friends from the beginning,” Trump said, calling them “unbelievable people” and “great people.” Some might say that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tactical unit that kidnapped protesters right off the street in Oregon before helping raid a humanitarian medical camp at the southern border are, in fact, not “great people,” but those kinds of raids and state-sanctioned disappearances are exactly why the authoritarian president loves them in the first place.
But of course, the impeached president wasn’t there just to soak in the love from his mini-fascists, he was also there to attack Joe Biden, who was set to receive the Democratic nomination for president later that day. “Biden’s plan is the most radical, extreme, reckless, dangerous, and deadly immigration plan ever put forward by a major party candidate,” Trump vomited at the rally he’s holding in the middle of a pandemic, claiming that “[f]or decades, Washington politicians like Biden allowed an endless supply of illegal foreign labor to decimate American jobs and wages.”
Regarding the former claim, Biden’s immigration plan is to put undocumented families on a path to citizenship, something Americans support by wildly massive margins: “In research conducted by Civis Analytics for The Immigration Hub, 77% of the 9,000 swing state voters interviewed supported a pathway to citizenship—the highest rated position of those tested,” immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice noted earlier this month. So it’s Trump’s mass deportation agenda that’s in fact “radical, extreme, reckless, dangerous, and deadly.”
On the second claim, well, it’s always about projection with this dude. The Trump Organization’s hiring and exploitation of undocumented workers is one of the nation’s worst-kept secrets, from his Virginia winery to his Bedminster golf resort. Undocumented workers like Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz helped keep those businesses running. Not only that, Trump is pointing his orange finger at others about an “endless supply” of undocumented workers when The Washington Post last year described “a pipeline” of undocumented workers for Trump that “goes back years.”
Trump also pulled out a redux of his presidential campaign kickoff speech, when he descended those Trump Tower escalators to slander Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists.” The latest version didn’t change much from then, and I won’t bother repeating it here for him because we already know he’s a white supremacist.
Trump also grossly boasted about blocking asylum-seekers at the southern border, claiming “[t]he numbers are so low,” and that “we’ve never had numbers like this because that big portion of wall already built, you don’t get through it. You can’t get through it. You can climb Mount Everest, and you’re going to have an awful hard time getting over that sucker.” Oh please: portions of that taxpayer-funded monstrosity have fallen due to winds. And lower numbers of people crossing are really not attributed to it at all, but instead to a Stephen Miller-led policy that has used the pandemic to expel thousands of asylum-seekers in violation of their rights—including children—and back to their possible deaths.
Under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order, officials have bypassed immigration judges entirely to expel children including infants, and because kids aren’t even assigned identifying information after they’re initially taken into custody, advocates have said many are now “virtually impossible” to find. Remember: All of this is happening because officials claim it’s a matter of public health. But recent reporting from Dara Lind and Lomi Kriel at ProPublica lays the administration’s false claim to waste. Not only is Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) testing nearly all of these children for COVID-19, it’s still expelling them even after they test negative. He’s still kicking them out. That’s what he’s proud of.
Finally, speaking of that damned wall, Trump was again questioned about all those promises he made about Mexico paying for his fencing.
“President Trump, since we’re here talking about the wall, and the election is fast approaching, do you have anything to say about your 2016 campaign promise that Mexico would pay for it?” a reporter asked, according to an official readout. ”Yeah, they are paying for it,” Trump lied. “How?” the reported responded. “They’re going to pay at the border, at the gate—cars going through,” Trump claimed. “We’re going to do a toll, or we may do a toll for money being sent back and forth. They will pay for it. Yeah, they are paying for it. It’s a hundred percent.” Sure. Just like when he was going to make them pay through remittances, or something. “So they are paying for it,” Trump tried to again reassure. “Yeah.” Yeah.
“The real radical is Trump,” America’s Voice executive director Frank Sharry responded. “Trump rails about immigrants and yet stands by while 170,000 Americans and counting die. He comes to Arizona, a hot spot for Covid-19 because the governor listened to Trump, and he has nothing to say about it. Nothing. He whistles past the graveyard and brags about a wall. He uses racism and xenophobia in a cynical and desperate attempt to change the subject. He divides to distract and deflect. America desperately needs a leader who will bring us together to face our challenges, not a con man who kills through his neglect.”
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