For Donald Trump, American president, the only undocumented immigrants who merit a mention are murderers and rapists. The guy who works 12-hour days in construction does not get a shoutout. The women who work as housekeepers at his own goddamn properties do not feature in his rally speeches. This is not a coincidence. While he'll occasionally grant that some, I assume, are good people, the overwhelming impression the president wishes to leave is that the United States is experiencing an invasion of dangerous criminals who want to kill your family and transform The America You Know and Love into a land you do not recognize. Meanwhile, there is no statistical link between undocumented immigrants and violent crime. The vast majority work normal jobs and pay billions in taxes each year. No matter: they're all in MS-13, or they might as well be.
Unfortunately, the president has continually ramped up this rhetoric. Increasingly, he has incorporated bizarre snuff stories about murders and kidnappings and sex trafficking. This is classic propaganda, using a few of the very worst examples in a group as representative of the whole—in contradiction of the broader evidence—and upping the fear quotient with lurid details. There's also the inescapable fact that "illegal immigrant" is a racialized term in America. No one thinks of a young Irish woman who came over on an Aer Lingus flight when Trump starts yelling about "illegals." He drives the point home with his obsession with MS-13, a gang formed in the California prison system that is primarily made up of Salvadoran immigrants. The people our president wants you to think are coming to kill you are brown.
On Tuesday night, at the end of a day in which Democrats in the House of Representatives announced articles of impeachment against him, Donald Trump went to Pennsylvania to tell some stories about immigrants.
TRUMP: "Thanks to Democrat immigration policies, innocent Americans in all 50 states are being brutalized & murdered by illegal aliens criminals. Last summer at least 19 illegal aliens were charged in connection with grizzly homicides, including hacking victims to death." pic.twitter.com/2TUci6Kk2x— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 11, 2019
This 19 number appears to refer to a task force in California that found 19 of 22 suspects in a brutal MS-13 cell came to the country illegally. But this isn't actually the point. Everyone is horrified by MS-13 and the like—including the vast majority of undocumented immigrants. But Trump never mentions those folks, or the fact that they might be just as eager to see murderers off their streets. The only immigrants who get a Presidential Mention are the murderers.
Also, the sex offenders.
Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault by more than 20 women, politicizes sex crimes committed by undocumented immigrants pic.twitter.com/JcWMAyumFu— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 11, 2019
It has been clear for a very long time that we are headed down a dark and dangerous path. This Nuremberg routine—undoubtedly inspired by Stephen Miller, the president's senior adviser who we now know loves to share white-nationalist propaganda—is just another step towards the abyss. Experts in the field say we are running a system of concentration camps at the border. The regime is waging an all-out assault on the separation of powers and the rule of law and the concept of objective truth. The president's political allies are marching in lockstep with this, undermining the ability of other branches of government to rein in his abuses. Increasingly, his supporters favor ceding more power to him and getting other democratic institutions out of the way.
And certain societal subgroups have been continually demonized for years now as The Other, shadowy hordes attempting to undermine Real America and take this country for themselves. This is the logic of extreme immigration crackdowns, and voter suppression, and relentless gerrymandering, and packing the judiciary with unqualified right-wingers who will dependably vote the right way. Only certain people should have a say in how this country is run. Trump himself spoke in apocalyptic terms about the consequences if Democrats win the next election, because they do not represent the Real Americans whose country this truly is.
"At stake in our present battle is the survival of the American nation itself. We will destroy our country if these people get in" -- Trump threatens the apocalypse if he doesn't win next year pic.twitter.com/HmchFCW8cl— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 11, 2019
Surely, this will end well.
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