tags: Press Releases

Like in 2018, Trump’s Midterm Closing Argument is a Dangerous Call to Arms Against Immigrants

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Vanessa Cárdenas: “The vile midterm closing argument from Donald Trump isn’t best viewed through the lens of politics, but through the lens of Pittsburgh and El Paso and Buffalo…”

Washington, DC – In the closing weeks of the midterm elections, Donald Trump is injecting dangerous nativist lies and anti-immigrant conspiracies into Republicans’ national closing argument despite the connection to real world violence.

This is both a description of Trump’s vile 2022 rhetoric, as seen at his South Texas rally this past weekend, as well as his behavior during the 2018 midterms. And as we saw in 2018 in the Pittsburgh Tree of Life massacre, these odious nativist conspiracies and calls to arms from Trump and other Republicans can create a climate that inspires – and echoes – white nationalist terrorists.

  • At his South Texas rally this weekend, Trump again advanced the “invasion” conspiracy using dangerous, martial language. He stated: “We have immigrants coming in. It’s like an army … They are storming our country. They are storming our borders.”
  • At an earlier October rally in Michigan, Trump issued a similar threat, saying: “we’re being invaded. No different than an Army of soldiers pouring across. These are an Army of many, many criminals…” 
  • In the 2018 midterm cycle, Trump tried to inject anti-immigrant fears into the homestretch, including by hyping a migrant caravan in Mexico and “unknown” Middle Easterners who had embedded in the caravan and by comparing migrants to a convicted cop killer in an overtly racist ad in the closing days of the cycle. 
  • The effort backfired on the Republicans politically in 2018, with the conservative Washington Examiner reporting in a post-election recap: “President Trump’s relentless focus on immigration in the midterm elections cost the Republican Party control of the House of Representatives, according to a blistering after-action review produced a by leading GOP pollster.”

More consequentially than the political impact, during the midst of Trump’s focus on supposedly scary migrant caravans and inspired by the “white replacement” and “invasion” conspiracies, a white nationalist killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, saying he was there to kill Jewish people who were responsible for immigrants replacing white people.

As political commentator Steve Phillips stated on MSNBC over the weekend, reacting to Trump’s rhetoric:

“On this exact date four years ago during the last midterms, Trump was tweeting about the Central American caravan – and that was on a Monday. On the Friday of that week, Robert Bowers – a white man in Pittsburgh – took his gun to Tree of Life synagogue because he was alarmed by what Trump was saying and shot and killed many Jews in that synagogue. One of the worst massacres on our soil…”

Meanwhile, the battleground Texas Republicans (Monica De La Cruz (TX-15), Rep. Mayra Flores (TX-34), Cassy Garcia (TX-28) who Trump spoke in favor of during his vile speech, have been silent when it comes to the deadly white nationalism Trump and the Republican Party have embraced. 

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

“Donald Trump is once again seeking to divide and distract Americans by stoking fears and misinformation about immigrants and the border using false and ominous language. It didn’t work in 2018, as the multiracial majority of Americans rejected Trump’s dark appeals and empowered a Democratic Congress to check an undemocratic President.

But the vile midterm closing argument from Donald Trump isn’t best viewed through the lens of politics, but through the lens of Pittsburgh and El Paso and Buffalo and other places where white domestic terrorists have taken literally the irresponsible rhetoric from Trump and other Republicans and have taken arms against Black, brown, and Jewish Americans. 

At a time when the Russian atrocities in Ukraine remind us of what a real ‘invasion’ looks like, Trump and other Republicans’ mainstreaming of white nationalist rhetoric is ugly, dangerous, and in need of urgent condemnation from more voices across the political spectrum.”