Trump on deported immigrants: “They’re not people. They’re animals.”

President Donald Trump referred to some people deported from the United States as “animals” during a roundtable discussion with California sheriffs on Wednesday. It’s the latest in a series of statements stretching Trump’s entire national political career that carelessly conflate immigration, criminality, and violence.

From the official White House transcript:

SHERIFF (Margaret) MIMS (Fresno County, CA): Now ICE is the only law enforcement agency that cannot use our databases to find the bad guys. They cannot come in and talk to people in our jail, unless they reach a certain threshold. They can’t do all kinds of things that other law enforcement agencies can do. And it’s really put us in a very bad position.

THE PRESIDENT: It’s a disgrace. Okay? It’s a disgrace.

SHERIFF MIMS: It’s a disgrace.

THE PRESIDENT: And we’re suing on that, and we’re working hard, and I think it will all come together, because people want it to come together. It’s so ridiculous. The concept that we’re even talking about is ridiculous. We’ll take care of it, Margaret. We’ll win.

SHERIFF MIMS: Thank you. There could be an MS-13 member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.

THE PRESIDENT: We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.

It’s not clear who the president was referring to — whether he was simply picking up on Sheriff Mims’s reference to MS-13 gang members or referring to deportees more broadly. But the president didn’t exactly bend over backward to specify that not all immigrants deported by this administration are “animals.”

Trump has used the term “animals” to refer to members of MS-13 before. In a July 2017 speech to law enforcement officers on Long Island, he said: “Few communities have suffered worse at the hand of these MS-13 thugs than the people of Long Island. They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields. They are animals.” In February, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he said, “These are animals. They cut people. They cut them. They cut them up in little pieces, and they want them to suffer. And we take them into our country.”

No matter how Trump is portraying his policy, his administration is not focusing on deporting people who have committed particularly heinous crimes; gang members; or people with criminal records. From Trump’s inauguration to the end of 2017, ICE arrested 45,436 immigrants without criminal records.

To be sure, ICE arrests of immigrants with criminal records ticked up slightly from the last year of the Obama administration (in which immigration enforcement was subdued compared to previous years) to the Trump administration. But arrests of immigrants without criminal records have also spiked. During President Obama’s last year, about 16 percent of ICE arrests were of noncriminal immigrants; each month since July 2017, between 32 and 40 percent of arrestees have been noncriminals.

The Trump administration is still deporting fewer noncriminal immigrants than the Obama administration did circa 2011, and the proportion of deportees who are noncriminals is usually smaller than the proportion of arrestees who are. But the Trump administration is aiming not just to ramp back up to the deportation peak of Obama’s first term but surpass it, and that’s going to require arresting and deporting a lot of immigrants without criminal records.

If Donald Trump understands his own administration’s policy, he’s never acknowledged it in public. He sticks to the same rhetorical move every time: refer to some specific criminals, call them horrible people and animals, say that their evil justifies his immigration policy, and allow the conflation of all immigrants and all Latinos with criminals and animals to remain subtext.

This is who Donald Trump has been for his entire political career. The worst-case scenarios about his dehumanizing rhetoric — that they would foment large-scale mob violence or vigilantism against Latinos in the United States — have not been realized. But neither have any hopes that Trump, as president, might ever weigh his words with any care at all, especially when encouraging Americans to see human beings as less than human.

[Vox]

Update

The White House said that President Trump was “clearly” referring to members of the MS-13 gang when he called some immigrants “animals” and argued the controversial label is more than appropriate.

Media

Kelly says undocumented immigrants ‘don’t have the skills’ to assimilate into US society

White House chief of staff John Kelly said he believes the vast majority of undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border into the US do not assimilate well because they are poorly educated.

“Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They’re not criminals. They’re not MS13,” Kelly told NPR in an interview released late Thursday, referring to the criminal gang. “But they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society.”

The former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security said the undocumented immigrants don’t speak English and are “overwhelmingly rural people” from countries where “fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm.”

don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws,” he went on to say.

According to NPR, Kelly supports DHS’ decision in ending temporary protected status (TPS) for Haiti, El Salvador, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sudan, and more recently Honduras.

However, he floated the idea of finding a path to citizenship for the more than 425,000 immigrants, many of whom have lived in the US legally for decades under TPS.

“I think we should fold all of the TPS people that have been here for a considerable period of time and find a way for them to be on a path to citizenship,” Kelly said.

Kelly, who is seen inside the Trump administration as a “hardass” on immigration, was previously accused of degrading undocumented immigrants in February, when he suggested that some were “too afraid” or “too lazy” to sign up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the President sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million,” he said on Capitol Hill after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to audio posted by The Washington Post.

“The difference between 690 and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up,” Kelly added.

After another meeting on Capitol Hill, Kelly later said some people who were DACA eligible but didn’t sign up had reasons but most probably “needed to get off the couch.”

[CNN]

Trump Asks If There Are Hispanics In The Room Before Demanding His Wall

President Donald Trump was met with silence at a campaign-style rally in Michigan Saturday night when he asked if there were any Hispanics present, then repeated his demand for a border wall.

Trump skipped the White House Correspondents Dinner to instead regale his fervent supporters in Washington, Michigan. After taking credit for Hispanic unemployment numbers dropping, the president said this:

“Any Hispanics in the room?” Trump asked to relative silence. “Naw, not so many? That’s OK.”

Then he took a swerve into: “In all fairness, Kanye West gets it. He gets it.” The president was referring to the rapper’s recent show of support for him.

Satisfied the audience was lacking in Hispanics, Trump launched into a tirade repeating his demand for his border wall, and said those illegally crossing into the U.S. are somehow voting for Democrats in elections.

“All of these people pouring across are gonna vote Democrat,” he claimed, even though studies have shown few undocumented people vote for anyone, Democrats or otherwise, except in the few places where their votes are specifically allowed.

“They do it for a lot of reasons,” Trump said. “A lot of times they don’t even know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, but we have to have borders and we need it fast.”

He threatened to “close down the country” if he doesn’t get funding for his wall in next year’s budget.

Before Trump attempted to reach out to Hispanic voters in South Florida earlier this month, he employed a similar tactic of surveying the audience.

“Are there any Hispanics in the room?” Trump asked during a roundtable discussion on tax cuts, The Washington Post reported.

He didn’t wait for an answer.

“No, I doubt it,” he said.

[Huffington Post]

Trump floats September shutdown for ‘border security’

President Donald Trump told supporters at a speech on Saturday that if Congress did not meet his funding demands for border security, he may support a government shutdown this fall.

Trump was speaking in Washington Township, Michigan, at the same time that the White House correspondents’ dinner was taking place back in Washington, DC, with some lawmakers and current and former members of his administration in attendance. During his remarks, he alluded to the appropriations deadline at the end of September.

“We have to have borders, and we have to have them fast,” he said. “And we need security. We need the wall. We’re going to have it all. And again, that wall has started. We got 1.6 billion. We come up again on September 28th, and if we don’t get border security, we’ll have no choice. We’ll close down the country because we need border security.”

Despite his campaign pledge to make Mexico pay for his proposed wall on the US-Mexico border, Trump has demanded that Congress fund the project. Last month, he signed a bill that funds the government through September after expressing frustration with a spending package that included $1.6 billion for border security, but not the wall.

In his speech Saturday night, Trump railed against the Democratic Party on a range of issues, including immigration.

“A vote for a Democrat in November is a vote for open borders and crime,” Trump said.

He continued, “The open border policies of the Democratic Party are not just wrong, they’re dangerous, and they’re in fact deadly. They’re deadly.”

[CNN]

Trump Judicial Nominee Appears to Have Called Undocumented Immigrants “Maggots”

Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the nomination of Michael Truncale, whom Donald Trump selected to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. A longtime Republican donor and activist, Truncale built his career opposing progressive policies, including the Affordable Care Act, gun control, and abortion access. He also appears to have referred to undocumented immigrants as “maggots.”

Truncale made this comment in 2012, when running for Congress in Texas’ 14th Congressional District, a seat that came open upon the retirement of Rep. Ron Paul. (He ultimately lost, coming in third place in the GOP primary.) During a candidate forum hosted by the Galveston County Republican Party and the Republican Network of Galveston County, Truncale said that the state’s Southern border is “very porous.” He continued:

And as a result of the nature of that border we have all sort of bad influences coming in. We have drugs, we have illegal gangs, there is the possibility of bombs from a host of other countries and people from overseas and we must secure that border. I think we should do it with boots on the ground. As a citizen taxpayer, I think that we should take some of the equipment that is coming back from Iraq that citizens have already paid for and instead of sending it to some warehouse in Nebraska or some place, let’s get it to the border patrol. … There can be some fencing, there can be electronic surveillance, and things of that nature to secure the border. But that’s the first thing.

Truncale then added that “with regard to immigration, we must not continue to have the maggots coming in.”

It is difficult to read this statement, first flagged by Harsh Voruganti of the nonpartisan legal blog the Vetting Room, as anything other than a reference to undocumented immigrants. The apparent slur raises obvious questions about Truncale’s impartiality in cases involving Latinos and immigrants, as well as his overall fitness for the bench. Judges may hold strong feelings about border security. But Truncale’s decision to publicly malign unauthorized immigrants raises doubts about his ability to separate personal prejudices from his professional duties.

In that respect, Truncale resembles Jeff Mateer, Trump’s previous nominee to the Eastern District of Texas. Mateer notoriously calledtransgender children part of “Satan’s plan.” (The White House eventually withdrew his nomination.) Like Mateer, Truncale was recommended to Trump by Texas Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. Presumably, Cruz and Cornyn chose him because of his enduring support for the GOP: Truncale served on the executive committee of the Texas Republican Party from 2006 to 2014 and has donated nearly $7,000 to Cornyn’s campaigns over the past dozen years. (He also gave Cruz $1,000 in 2015.) Moreover, Truncale served as a Republican delegate for John McCain in 2008 and volunteered for the Trump campaign. (He has spent his legal career at the firm Orgain, Bell & Tucker, practicing civil defense and white-collar criminal defense.)

Cornyn and Cruz might’ve hoped that Truncale would prove to be less controversial than Mateer. But he is likely to face tough questions at his hearing next week, as Democrats and some Republicans have lost their patience with openly biased nominees.

[Slate]

Trump threatens to pull funding for California National Guard deployment

President Donald Trump lashed out at California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday, insisting that his administration won’t pay for the state’s National Guard deployment unless the troops help enforce US immigration laws at the border.

“Governor Jerry Brown announced he will deploy ‘up to 400 National Guard Troops’ to do nothing,” Trump tweeted. “The crime rate in California is high enough, and the Federal Government will not be paying for Governor Brown’s charade. We need border security and action, not words!”

Later Thursday, Trump tweeted more about immigration policy.

“Sanctuary Cities released at least 142 Gang Members across the United States, making it easy for them to commit all forms of violent crimes where none would have existed. We are doing a great job of law enforcement, but things such as this make safety in America difficult!”

Trump’s tweets comes less than 24 hours after Brown, a Democrat, agreed to send more National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border. Brown said that the mission would be limited.

“Let’s be crystal clear on the scope of this mission,” Brown said. “This will not be a mission to build a new wall. It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life. And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws.”

Trump’s comments seemingly contradict an earlier tweet from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“Just spoke w @JerryBrownGov about deploying the @USNationalGuard in California,” Nielsen wrote on Wednesday. “Final details are being worked out but we are looking forward to the support. Thank you Gov Brown!”

Asked for comment on Trump’s tweet, Brown’s office pointed to Nielsen’s comments.

[CNN]

Reality

Violent crime across the country is at an all time low.

Trump blasts ‘breeding’ in sanctuary cities. That’s a racist term.

What exactly did President Donald Trump mean by “breeding” when he tweeted Wednesday about cities that will not cooperate with the federal government to deport the undocumented.

This is Donald Trump. He meant exactly what you think.

The tweet, offered Wednesday morning, argued that Californians prefer his hard-line policies to those of Gov. Jerry Brown.

“There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!”

It is true that the government of Orange County has voted twice now to opt out of the state’s so-called “sanctuary” law.

Whether there is full-blown “Revolution” in California seems less likely.

But it’s the next part of the tweet that is more difficult to understand.

“Sooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept,” according to the President.

What exactly does he mean by “breeding concept?” It appears to be a new addition to his rhetoric on immigration. He doesn’t appear to have used it before on Twitter or in recent public remarks on sanctuary cities.

There is great danger in trying to dissect every word of a Trump tweet, but in this case it is worth trying to figure out. CNN has reached out to the White House to figure out exactly what he meant.

The tweet has not been deleted at the time of this writing, so he means for those words to remain out there. In other words, it’s not likely to be at typo. He has been known to correct those in the past.

A simple Google search doesn’t uncover any specific mention of a “breeding concept” with regard to sanctuary cities in the conservative media, so it’s a little unclear what he’s referring to.

Taken literally, the most likely explanation is that he’s talking about sanctuary cities as places where undocumented immigrants breed.

If that’s right, there’s a racial undertone in the comment should slap you in the face.

Fear of immigrants from certain countries “breeding” has been a staple of nativist thought for hundreds of years. The “breeding” fear has been affixed to Jews from Eastern Europe, Catholics from Ireland and Italy, Chinese and, now, Latinos, Filipinos, Africans and Haitians. This is dog-whistle politics at its worst.

“Breeding” as a concept has an animalistic connotation. Dogs and horses are bred. So his use of it is, at best, dehumanizing to the immigrants he appears to be referring to.

The other possible definition of the word has to do with manners passed down through generations. In that case, Trump is saying people in sanctuary cities weren’t raised right. That doesn’t seem to work within the context of the tweet.

Plus, there is Trump’s obsession with the idea of immigrants flooding the US. He’s insisted that immigration reform end the concept of what opponents call “chain migration.”

“Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump said during his State of the Union address. Politifact called that claim “misleading.”

At the outset of his presidential campaign, he seemed in tent on challenging the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.

“What happens is they’re in Mexico, they’re going to have a baby, they move over here for a couple of days, they have the baby,” he told Fox News in August 2015 as he was taking command of the Republican field. “Many lawyers are saying that’s not the way it is in terms of this,” and went on to say, “They are saying it is not going to hold up in court. It will have to be tested but they say it will not hold up in court.”

In an interview around the same time with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, he said, “You have people on the border and in one day, they walk over and have a baby and now all of the sudden, we’re supposed to pay the baby.”

Changing interpretation of the 14th Amendment is not an issue he’s pursued as President, but it’s clear from those early interviews that he has at times wanted to pursue it and that he’s been nervous about immigrant children.

More recently, he’s raised concerns that immigrant women coming into the US have, in large numbers, been raped.

All of those things put together suggest Trump’s “breeding concept” tweet, consciously or not, is in line with his efforts use ever more divisive rhetoric on immigration.

[CNN]

Justice Department Will Pause A Legal Advice Program For Detained Immigrants

The Department of Justice will temporarily suspend funding for a legal-advice program for detained immigrants as well as a telephone help line at the end of the month, according to officials.

On Tuesday, the department alerted the Vera Institute of Justice, an immigrants rights organization that runs the Legal Orientation Program and the Immigration Court Helpdesk, that the government needs time to review the effectiveness of the program.

The most recent review occurred in 2012. According to public statements, the annual price tag of the program is about $6 million.

The Justice Department declined to explain why it has chosen to review the program when the contract expires on April 30. Officials also declined to provide a timeline for the review.

According to the Vera Institute of Justice, the program serves more than 50,000 people per year in 38 Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers across the country. The nonprofit works with a network of 18 legal aid organizations to provide information in multiple languages about immigrant rights and how the legal system operates.

“Without this program immigrants are effectively being stripped of access to even the most basic information,” Claudia Cubas, the litigation director for Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, told NPR.

Cubas’ Washington, D.C.-based group provides services for undocumented immigrants in six detention centers in Maryland and Virginia. In addition to an orientation session explaining terminology and the processes of immigration cases, the nonprofit groups also try to pair individuals with pro bono attorneys who can then represent them in immigration court, Cubas said. In instances where staff members take on cases, Cubas said, the lawyers are not paid through the government program.

The program was created in 2003 under President George W. Bush.

“Without this funding, we don’t know if we’ll be able to respond to the growing detention population that we’re seeing at a local level. And given concerns about the immigration court backlog this is an incongruous decision because studies show people who get legal help can more quickly make decisions about their case,” she said.

A 2012 cost analysis by the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review concluded that 94 percent of detained migrants who were provided services on or before the day of their first immigration court hearing spent 11 fewer days in ICE detention and completed their immigration proceedings 16 days faster than those who did not.

The same study found that the program created a net savings for the government of nearly $18 million.

In recent months, the Justice Department has made several changes to the nation’s immigration courts intended to clear a vast backlog, now estimated to be about 685,000 cases, according to Syracuse University.

The Department of Justice also announced last week that immigration judges’ job performance will be evaluated by how quickly they close cases.

[NPR]

Trump Claims “Rape” By Immigrants At Level Nobody Has Seen Before

Trump claims that Central American immigration ‘caravan’ is marauding band of rapists.

In fact in many cases, they’re traveling in groups because immigrants and asylum seekers are often victims of rape and theft.

[Talking Points Memo]

Media

Trump says he will put U.S. military on southern border

President Trump said Tuesday that he plans to deploy U.S. troops along the southern border to prevent illegal crossings “until we can have a wall.”

“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Defense Secretary James Mattis was sitting next to Trump when he made his comments.

Such a move would significantly escalate the U.S. presence along the frontier with Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol — not the military — is tasked with protecting the border.

Trump has recently reverted back to his hard-line stance on immigration, backing away from his efforts to compromise with Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Over the past several days, the president has closed the door to a deal to protect young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children, called on Mexico to step up efforts to detail illegal border crossers and sounded the alarm about a so-called “caravan” of Central American migrants heading for the U.S. border.

“If it reaches our border, our laws are so weak and so pathetic…it’s like we have no border,” Trump said.

Trump tied the caravan to the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program that he ended last fall, even though it does not cover people who crossed the border this year.

The president is coming under mounting pressure from his base to secure a policy win on immigration, after he failed to secure $25 billion to build his proposed border wall in a government funding bill.

Trump even floated the possibility of pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico does not take steps to curb the flow of immigrants crossing the border illegally.

The president on Tuesday claimed the caravan is breaking up “very rapidly” in part because of his threat.

Sending troops the border would be an unusual, but not unprecedented, step.

Presidents Obama and George W. Bush both deployed National Guard troops at the border to help stop illegal immigration. The temporary moves came as they were trying to win conservative support for immigration reforms that would allow millions to seek U.S. citizenship.

“The United States is not going to militarize the southern border,” Bush said when announcing the deployment in 2006. “Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend.”

[The Hill]

Reality

A defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity had no immediate details as to how many troops would be used, or what authorities they would have, but said the presence could be similar to the 2006-2008 patrols U.S. military personnel conducted under Operation Jump Start.

In that operation, President George W. Bush called for up to 6,000 National Guard members to secure parts of the border. Eventually 29,000 military personnel from all over the country were involved in the mission, which had a projected cost of around $1.2 billion in then-year dollars.

In 2012, President Barack Obama deployed Army forces from Ft. Bliss to the Tucson, Arizona and El Paso, Texas areas for Operation Nimbus, a joint operation between U.S. Northern Command and Customs and Border Patrol.

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