President Donald Trump insisted Wednesday that he is “not fear-mongering at all” about immigration with just days to go until the midterm elections. Seconds later, though, he said “immigration is a very very big, and very dangerous — a really dangerous topic.”
Speaking to reporters from the White House lawn, Trump at one point explicitly tied his lies and fear-mongering about immigrants to the midterm elections.
“We’re doing very well with the women vote, because they want security,” he said. “They want safety. They don’t want these people pouring into our country, totally unchecked.”
The President repeatedly painted a grim picture of the purportedly dangerous migrants and asylum seekers currently 1,000 miles away from the U.S. border. In reality, the group is full of men, women and children escaping poverty and gang violence who’ve sought safety in numbers.
“It’s very dangerous, you see what’s been happening,” Trump said of the so-called “caravan.” He added later: “We’re not going to allow people to come into our country who don’t have the well-being of our country in mind.” He said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if liberal philanthropist and Democratic donor George Soros had financed the caravan, a false conspiracy theory that the far-right has used as an anti-Semitic dog whistle.
Trump said he would send thousands more troops to the border than the thousands he’s already ordered — “on top of border patrol, ICE, and everybody else at the border.” If Trump really did send “between 10 and 15,000 military personnel” to the border, that would match or exceed the United States’ current force in Afghanistan.
He also vastly inflated the number of undocumented people in the United States, claiming there are 25 or 30 million, as opposed to the roughly 11 or 12 million undocumented people in the country, according to governmental and independent estimates.
The falsely large number, Trump said, was the result of what he’s previously called “catch and release,” or the practice of not detaining undocumented people in between court dates.
He floated the possibility of building vast camps full of migrants to prevent that release, though it’s not that easy. The Flores settlement sets strict limits on how long children can remain in government detention.
“We’re not doing any releases anymore,” Trump said. “We’re not going to release and let them never come back to trial. We’ll build tent cities. We’ll build whatever we have to build.”
Contrary to Trump’s lie about undocumented people “never com[ing] back to trial,” the majority of undocumented people released from detention prior to their court dates do show up for those dates.
The President also reiterated his desire to eliminate birthright citizenship for the children of non-citizens. He argued that he could change the constitutionally established right with an executive order because that’s what former President Barack Obama used to establish Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA].
“Certainly if he can do DACA, we can do this by executive order,” he said.
Seconds after falsely claiming he's not fear-mongering about immigration, Trump fear-mongers about immigration. pic.twitter.com/4cEA2IalE8
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) October 31, 2018