Last week, Donald Trump spoke at three rallies in three different states: Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. In each speech, whenever the audience was tuning out, he began stirring up the crowd against immigrants. We have seen this now for three years. His supporters seem most gleeful when Trump paints word pictures of what harm he is doing to immigrant communities.
At his rally in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, Trump warned that “Worst of all, Democrats want to — you know that. They want to open our borders. They want to let crime, tremendous crime into our country. We can’t do it. (CROWD BOOS)”
We all know that Trump loves to say the words “open borders” and “crime” in the same sentence as often as possible. He continued by saying that, “Republicans want strong borders and no crime; Democrats want open borders, which equals massive crime.”
So, no immigrants means “no crime” and immigrants means “massive crime.” Got that? His listeners certainly did.
Then Trump went after anyone who wants to hold ICE accountable for its increasingly abusive behavior. He said “And on top of that, the Democrats — Nancy Pelosi, the whole group, Maxine — Maxine. She likes me a lot. She likes me a lot. (CROWD BOOS) They’ve launched outrageous attacks on our incredible law enforcement officers, and on ICE and our Border Patrol, can you believe it? (CROWD BOOS)”
According to Trump, the critics of ICE “want to let MS-13 rule our country. That’s not going to happen.”
Trump again said that ICE is “liberating communities” from “savage gangs like MS-13 that are occupying our country like another nation would.” I work in Brentwood where MS-13 has committed heinous crimes, and I live on Long Island, which Trump has visited four times in the last three years to attack immigrants. While MS is a major law enforcement concern, the gang has not “occupied” Long Island like a foreign country. Yet, if you watch the speech, you will see Trump’s virtually all-white audience roar in approval at his words.
Then, of course, Trump next goes into the building of the wall:
“And we’re going to have tremendous border security that will include the wall — that will include the wall. (APPLAUSE) Now a lot of people don’t know it, but we’ve already started the wall. We got $1.6 billion and we’ve started large portions of the wall, but we’re going to need – even the way we negotiate, we’re going to need more, and we’re going to get more, and we may have to do some pretty drastic things, but we’re going to get it.”
Most of what he says about the wall is fantasy and nonsense, but it is always an applause line, followed by chants of “Build the Wall.”
In his Wilkes-Barre speech on Thursday, Trump denounced the Diversity Visa program saying:
“So we’re going to have a lottery where you pick it out, ladies and gentlemen, our first lottery winner, you know, they think we’re playing like a game show… our first lottery winner, he has seven convictions for theft, he’s killed nine people, and we’re getting him the hell out of our country and giving them to the stupid politicians that have been running the United States for many years, and we’re going to send him up there because he has just won the lottery. Congratulations.”
Now, of course, a “visa lottery winner” with a felony conviction, let alone a serial murderer, would be automatically ineligible to obtain a Diversity Visa. But, why should the truth play any role in the nightmares the president is spinning for the gullible? His laughing, screaming audience didn’t even seem to care that his scenario was a complete fabrication. All that really mattered was that their hatred was being stoked.
Trump said that the hatred he generated against immigrants justified shutting down the United States government. He told his Pennsylvania supporters that “We’re about to get really nasty over the wall. We’re either getting it or we’re shutting down government. We need border security. We need border security.”
On Saturday, the president hit at the same themes with even more venom in Columbus, Ohio. While we have heard much of this hate speech before, we should understand that Trump is engaged in a major offensive against immigrants that will run through the next 90 days. He expects to make three to five of these speeches each week. This will have a major effect on how his supporters view and treat immigrants.