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The Most Anti-Immigrant President in History Cynically Uses Naturalization Ceremony as Political Theater

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The naturalization ceremony part of last night’s RNC was a deeply cynical event, featuring the most anti-immigrant president in history attempting to obscure and paper over his relentless animosity toward immigrants and both undocumented and so-called “legal” immigration. A range of observers weighed in to condemn the cynicism on display and to highlight the Trump administration’s real record:

  • Mario Carrillo, Campaigns Manager of America’s Voice:

As a naturalized U.S. citizen, and son of naturalized parents, watching Donald Trump’s naturalization ceremony in the White House was deeply disturbing. Not because of the immigrants who were there, who I’m glad can now share in the responsibility and protection provided by citizenship, but because Trump has made it his administration’s mission to close every avenue for legal immigration, while making life a living hell for undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers. 

This hypocritical ploy was intended to soften an image of the rampant racism and xenophobia that is common of the Trump administration that has torn children from their parents, called African countries, El Salvador and Haiti “shitholes,” and ended DACA, a popular program that protects hundreds of thousands of people. Trump and Stephen Miller have been joined by the entire GOP in their long descent into vile nativism. So, while I congratulate those who became citizens last night, I know there are millions more who are also deserving, who would be deported if Trump and the GOP  had their way.

  • Michael Shear in the New York Times assessed: “President Trump sought Tuesday to wrap himself in pro-immigrant sentiment — even though his administration has waged a yearslong assault on the nation’s immigration system … Mr. Trump’s explicit claim that he loves and appreciates immigrants stands in stark contrast to his record over the past four years, during which he has repeatedly pursued anti-immigrant policies, often fueled by xenophobic language.”
  • BuzzFeed immigration reporter Hamed Aleaziz quoted two anonymous USCIS staffers on their feelings watching the naturalization ceremony: one stated, “It sickened me to my core to watch that spectacle given every directive this administration has taken from day one to demonize immigrant communities, including naturalized ones.” The other stated, “It’s sick that they’re using naturalization as political theater given all the administration has done to limit legal immigration and that USCIS was days away from furloughing two thirds of its workforce.”
  • Janet Murguia, President and CEO of UnidosUS tweeted: “First, congratulations to the new citizens. But this  “shotgun-wedding” of a ceremony was a disgrace. Trump has spent 5 years demonizing immigrants, separated families, jacked-up fees to become a citizen & gutted the citizenship service. Tonight’s stunt was obscene. #HatchAct”
  • Jess Morales Rocketto, Executive Director of Care In Action, tweeted: “The offensiveness of Trump, who has separated thousands of families and tried to build walls to literally close the door of America, now using immigrants at props while he endangers the lives of thousands of children and families at the border every day!!! #FamiliesBelongTogether”
  • Frank Bruni in his column for the New York Times, titled “The Epic Shamelessness of the Republican Convention”: “He emceed a naturalization ceremony — on live television — of five immigrants who belong to the sorts of ethnic groups or come from the kinds of places that he has routinely caricatured and vilified. This didn’t honor them. It reduced them to re-election props.”
  • Doug Rand, Co-Founder of Boundless Immigration, tweeted: “Q: How many of the 315,000 immigrants at risk of being disenfranchised this November will be naturalized by the Trump administration in time to vote? A: 5, when the cameras are rolling.”
  • Philip Bump in the Washington Post noted: “convention viewers were asked to set aside years of Trump antagonism toward immigrants entering the country both legally and illegally and, instead, to believe that he offers warm embraces to new Americans …coming from this president, at this time, in that place, beside that homeland security official, the pablum was necessarily blanketed by layers of cynicism, opportunism and questions about the president’s willingness to adhere to the law.”