The revelation Tuesday morning that President Trump has plans to end birthright citizenship by executive order is the culmination of the President’s weeks-long effort to inject nativism into the midterm elections as his party desperately tries to hold on to its congressional majorities.
In the closing weeks before voters head to the polls, Trump has repeatedly railed against undocumented immigrants, used nationalist rhetoric to appeal to his base and unleashed anger towards the “other.” Trump’s language of late harkens back to his 2016 presidential campaign, when he offered his supporters a scapegoat, telling them that immigrants were snatching up their jobs and bringing violence to their communities, and only a big, beautiful wall could protect them.
Though Trump has largely avoided talk of his proposed border wall this cycle, he has demonized immigrants at rally after rally while stumping for Republican candidates throughout the country. His language has not been subtle. He’s claimed that undocumented immigrants are “criminals,” described a migrant caravan headed toward the U.S. as an “invasion,” and warned of non-existent “riots” against sanctuary cities.
In case he wasn’t clear enough while describing his immigration policy and disdain for immigrants, Trump told a crowd in Houston that he is a “nationalist,” a term linked to the far-right fringe of the Republican party that helped propel Trump to the presidency.
As another caravan of migrants slowly moving toward the southern border of the U.S., Trump has relentlessly demonized it and concocted conspiracy theories about the migrants seeking refuge from the poverty and gang violence in their home countries.
He falsely claimed that Democrats were behind the caravan because they “figure everybody coming in is going to vote Democrat” and baselessly claimed at another rally that Democrats are “encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders and overwhelm our nation.” He told a crowd in Arizona that the caravan is “assault on our country at our Southern Border.”
Trump also spread falsehoods about those in the caravan, claiming that in addition to South American migrants, Middle Eastern migrants were part of the caravan as well. Vice President Mike Pence echoed that bogus claim, only to have Trump later acknowledge that he had no evidence to support the claim.
Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
Trump and his administration have long been hostile to so-called “sanctuary cities,” jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. He escalated this hostility at a rally, baselessly claiming that California residents were “rioting” in protest of “sanctuary city” laws.
Troops to the border
As Trump pushed his inflammatory rhetoric about immigration at rallies and in tweets, his administration ordered 5,200 troops to the southern border.
“This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” Trump said in an accompanying tweet.
In an interview with Fox News on Monday evening, Trump said that the federal government will hold migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. in “tent cities” until their trial to determine asylum status. Trump said that the tent cities would be “very nice,” but only after saying that the administration would not spend “hundreds of millions of dollars” to build “structures” for refugees coming across the southern border.
End birthright citizenship
To top off his virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric of the campaign, Trump said in an interview published Tuesday morning that he has plans to use executive power to abolish birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants. Trump falsely claimed that the U.S. is the only country with that policy, calling it “ridiculous.”