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Post-Conviction Arizona Rally Shows How Anti-Immigrant Focus Is Central to Trump’s Larger Anti-Democratic Push

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Washington, DC — In his first post-conviction rally speech, Donald Trump drove home the core theme of his 2024 election campaign – peddling dangerous anti-immigrant lies and conspiracies used to sow doubts about the legitimacy of our democratic process and to justify his pledge for unsparing mass deportations of long-settled immigrants in a Trump second term, all while deflecting attention on his own criminality. Trump’s Arizona speech was hosted by Turning Points USA, which has a well-documented history of racism and white nationalism. 

The speech showcased the three major threats from the Trump campaign’s immigration focus:

  1. Downstream political violence that results from amplifying white nationalist conspiracies like the invasion and great replacement conspiracies
  2. The threat of unrelenting and indiscriminate mass deportation, which would devastate the economy of Arizona (and everywhere else), and
  3. Casting immigrants as villains determined to influence our elections  as a strategy to erode confidence in American democracy among base Republican voters  

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

“Stoking xenophobic fears is the beating heart of Trump and the GOP’s 2024 campaign. They continue to advance dangerous conspiracies about immigrants as a central plank in their larger anti-democratic push. Trump and his followers are promising to deploy the military and police from red states and deputize local police immune from prosecution to start mass round-ups and expulsions of immigrants, including long-settled immigrants like Dreamers, TPS holders and essential workers who have lived and worked in the U.S. decades. 

Framing immigrants using dehumanizing and dangerous rhetoric – ‘invaders’ and ‘replacers’ – both helps justify the potential mass deportations and also stokes fear and justification among his base that the electoral process is rigged. The former president’s rhetoric and behavior creates a climate where ‘real’ Americans believe they must take matters into their own hands to protect their country. The deadly consequences have already been felt across the nation. Yes, Trump’s dystopian and apocalyptic immigration focus is nothing new, but we mustn’t let that obscure the steady radicalization that makes the threat that much more acute. We need to understand the stakes and take the consequences seriously and go beyond fact-checking to understand the larger motivations and implications of what we keep witnessing.”

Among the excerpts and themes of the Trump Arizona rally: 

  • Mass deportation pledge, including of long settled immigrants: Trump said: “I want to send Joe Biden’s illegal aliens back home where they belong … Joe Biden wants an invasion. I want a deportation … On day one, I will seal the border. I will stop the invasion and we will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in the history.”  Describing immigrants, Trump told the crowd that “we have to clean out the problem.” Earlier this week, Trump again stated that his mass deportations would be unsparing and focus not just on newer asylum seekers and migrants, but also on long-settled undocumented immigrants, noting: “I’m gonna do the big deportation. The biggest ever … you’ll get rid of 10 really bad ones. And one really beautiful mother … it’s always gonna be tough, it’s not gonna be easy … the way you get rid of them is the local police.” See more from AV on Trump’s mass deportation vision and implications HERE.
  • Dangerous anti-immigrant lies and conspiracies linked to deadly violence: Trump used the “invasion” language no less than 10 times in his speech, echoing the white nationalist conspiracy that has inspired a pattern of multiple domestic terrorist attacks in recent years from Pittsburgh, El Paso, and Buffalo. As America’s Voice noted back in February 2022, Turning Points USA founder Charlie Kirk asserted that the adoption of the white nationalist “invasion” rhetoric as a litmus test for Republican Party candidates. Since then, the GOP has come to adopt the deadly conspiracy as their main talking point about the border, including past immigration reform champions like Sens. Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio.
  • Using immigration lies to lay the groundwork for larger anti-democratic push: As America’s Voice has detailed, Trump and allies’ are using baseless conspiracies that finger immigrants as villains polluting the ballot box already in the process of stealing the election. The New York Times characterized this element in Trump’s speech, writing: “He again insisted, without evidence, that Mr. Biden was ‘deliberately’ encouraging migrants to come illegally in order to become voters for Democrats.” Seeding these replacement theory lies Trump and his allies are attempting to lay  the groundwork for stoking fear among the MAGA base, opening the door to voting restrictions for eligible voters, delegitimizing the democratic process and amplifying the idea that immigrants are being lured to the United States by nefarious elites to undermine the country. These lies actively court more political violence in the style of January 6 and threaten American democracy.

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