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“America Can’t Afford to Look Away” from Donald Trump’s Dangerous Immigration and Anti-Democracy Remarks

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Washington, DC — Yesterday, at a Michigan roundtable and a Wisconsin rally, Donald Trump offered a dark, dangerous, and false portrayal of immigrants and immigration, continuing his relentless focus on immigration as a core plank of his strategy for regaining the presidency and delegitimizing the democratic process.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“By the standard of any other former president or serious presidential contender in American history, Donald Trump’s dangerous remarks on immigrants and immigration yesterday would be historic and beyond shocking. By Trump’s standards, it’s just another Tuesday in the Midwest.

But while his dark, lurid, and conspiratorial nativism was expected, it shouldn’t be normalized. And despite our collective disgust and desire to ignore or blow past Trump’s rallies, it’s important we do the opposite. America can’t afford to look away given the dangers and what’s at stake. Instead, we should listen, watch, or read through Trump’s remarks. Take seriously what he is saying and pledging. Recognize the way that he is weaponizing fear and nativism and racialized conspiracies both to pursue political power, but also to delegitimize our democratic process and lay the groundwork for more potential political violence in the spirit of January 6th. 

All of it stokes the possibility of real-world violence, both directed at immigrants and at our democracy and the democratic process. None of it is okay or should be viewed through the traditional lens of political campaign coverage and analysis. America is better than the dark and dystopian view of immigrants and our democracy that we are hearing from the former president.”

As Amy Spitalnik, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, assessed: “Today Trump called immigrants ‘animals’ and argued that, if he doesn’t win in November, it ‘could be the last election we ever have.’ And it’s barely getting attention. This is how fascism is normalized. It cannot be considered partisan to call this out.”

Here are three lowlights and examples of Trump’s remarks yesterday and their significance:

  • Why Trump’s continued dehumanizing portrayal of immigrants as “animals” is so dangerous: Among Trump’s latest dehumanizing language were his comments in Michigan: “Democrats said please don’t call immigrants animals. I said, no, they’re not humans, they’re animals.” The effort to stoke fears and label the non-white “other” as sub-human is flat-out dangerous and echoes the rhetoric of past authoritarians and politicians who have relied on such portrayals to maintain racial hierarchies, pursue state-directed violence, and/or inspire followers to commit real-world violence.
  • Examples of Trump’s use of dangerous, martial language – “invasion” and Biden’s “migrant armies”: In Michigan, Trump said, “no country can stand this invasion…it’s wrecking our civilization.” Later, he said, “We will liberate this nation from crooked Joe and his migrant armies of dangerous criminals once and for all. This is an invasion of our country.” 
  • Trump again is connecting dangerous immigration rhetoric to dangerous anti-democratic incitement: Trump also claimed if he doesn’t win the election, “this may be the last election we ever have.” This is just the latest example of the connections between his nativism and the larger anti-democratic push. Such notions, alongside the portrayal of immigrants as being part of an organized “army” of invaders, lay the groundwork for delegitimizing election results, stoke false grievances that “real” Americans’ political power is being unfairly diminished by non-white immigrants, and is a pretext for political violence in the style of January 6th. See more here and here.