Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric makes gains among some Democrats

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The video shared by the former president donald trump features horror movie music and images of immigrants supposedly entering the US from countries such as Cameroon, Afghanistan and China. Shots of men with tattoos and videos of violent crimes are contrasted with close-ups of people waving and wrapping themselves in American flags.

“They are coming by the thousands,” Trump says in the video, posted on his social media site. “We will secure our borders. And we will restore sovereignty.”

In his speeches and online posts, Trump has escalated anti-immigrant rhetoric as he seeks White House a third time, presenting immigrants as dangerous criminals who “poison the blood” of the United States. Striking the nation’s deepest fault lines of race and national identity, his message often based on falsehoods about migration. But this resonates with many of his core supporters a decade ago, when chants of “build the wall” began echoing at his rallies.

President Joe Biden and his allies discuss the border very differently. The Democrat describes the situation as a political dispute that Congress can resolve and criticizes Republicans in Washington for moving away from a border security agreement after facing criticism from Trump.

But in a potentially worrying sign for Biden, Trump’s message appears to be resonating with key elements of the Democratic coalition that Biden will need to win over in November.

About two-thirds of Americans now disapprove of the way Biden is handling border security, including about 4 in 10 Democrats, 55% of Black adults and 73% of Hispanic adults, according to an American Affairs Research Center. Associated Press-NORC Publics. survey conducted in March.

TO recent Pew Research Center survey found that 45% of Americans described the situation as a crisis, while another 32% said it was a major problem.

Vetress Boyce, a Chicago-based racial justice activist, was among those who expressed frustration with Biden’s immigration policies and the city’s approach as it tries to house newly arrived immigrants. She argued that Democrats should focus on economic investment in Black communities, not newcomers.

“They send us people who are starving, in the same way that black people are starving in this country. They send us people who want to escape these conditions and come here for a better lifestyle when those who are here are suffering and have been suffering for over 100 years,” Boyce said. “That recipe is a recipe for disaster. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

Gracie Martinez is a 52-year-old Hispanic small business owner from Eagle Pass, Texas, the border town Trump visited in February when he and Biden did on the same day. trips to the state. Martinez said he once voted for former President Barack Obama and that he is still a Democrat, but now backs Trump, mainly because of the border.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “It’s tons and tons of people and they’re giving them medical care, money and phones,” she said, complaining that those who went through the legal immigration system are treated worse.

Priscilla Hesles, 55, a teacher who lives in Eagle Pass, Texas, described the current situation as “almost a leap forward” that had changed the city.

“We don’t know where they are hiding. “We don’t know where they’ve infiltrated and where they’re going to come out,” said Hesles, who said she used to take a late-night walk to a local church but stopped after being shaken by an encounter with a group of men who she said , they were immigrants.

Immigration will almost certainly be one of the central issues in the November elections, and both sides will spend the next six months trying to portray the other as wrong on border security.

The president’s re-election campaign recently launched a $30 million advertising campaign targeting Latino audiences in key swing states that includes a digital ad in English and Spanish highlighting Trump’s past description of Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “ rapists.”

The White House has also mulled a series of executive actions that could dramatically tighten immigration restrictions, effectively bypassing Congress after it failed to approve the bipartisan deal backed by Biden.

“Trump is a fraud who only seeks his own benefit,” said Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Muñoz. “We’ll make sure voters know that this November.”

Trump will campaign on Tuesday in Wisconsin and Michigan this week, where he is expected to attack Biden again on immigration. His campaign said his event in the western Michigan city of Grand Rapids will focus on what was alleged to have been the “Biden border bloodbath.”

The former president calls recent record arrests for the southwest border crossings, an “invasion” orchestrated by Democrats to transform the very fabric of the United States. Trump accuses Biden of intentionally allowing potential criminals and terrorists to enter the country unchecked. going so far as to claim that the president is involved in a “conspiracy to overthrow the United States of America.”

It also presents immigrants (many of them women and children escaping poverty and violence) as “ poisoning the blood ” of the United States with drugs and diseases and stated that some “are not people.” Experts who study extremism warn against using dehumanizing language when describing immigrants.

There is no evidence that foreign governments are emptying their prisons or mental asylums as Trump claims. And although conservative news coverage has been dominated by several heinous and high-profile crimes allegedly committed by people who are in the country illegally, The latest FBI statistics show violent crime overall in the US. fell again last yearcontinuing a downward trend after a pandemic-era peak.

Studies have also found that people living in the country illegally are much less likely than native-born Americans to have been arrested for violent, drug-related, and property crimes.

“Certainly, the last few months have demonstrated a clear shift in political support,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of the immigrant resettlement group Global Refuge and a former Obama administration and State Department official.

“I think that relates to the rhetoric of the last few years,” he said, “and this dynamic of being overtaken by loud, extreme xenophobic rhetoric that hasn’t been countered by reality and facts on the ground.”

Part of what has made the border such a prominent issue is that its impact is felt far from the border.

Trump allies, particularly Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have used state-funded buses to send more than 100,000 immigrants to Democratic-led cities like New York, Denver and Chicago, where Democrats will hold the convention. this summer. While the program was initially dismissed as a publicity stunt, the influx has strained city budgets and left local leaders scrambling to provide emergency housing and medical care to new groups of immigrants.

Meanwhile, local news coverage has often been negative. Viewers have seen immigrants blamed for everything from a series of gang-related robberies in New Jersey to robbery rings targeting retail stores in the Philadelphia suburbs and measles cases in parts of Arizona and Illinois.

Abbott has deployed the Texas National Guard to the border, placed concertina wire along parts of the Rio Grande in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s orders, and argued that his state should be able to enforce its own immigration laws. immigration.

Some far-right Internet sites have begun to point to Abbott’s actions as the first salvo in a looming civil war. And Russia has helped too spread and amplify misleading and inflammatory content about American immigration and border security as part of their broader efforts to polarize Americans. A recent analysis by the firm Logically, which tracks Russian disinformation, found that online influencers and social media accounts linked to the Kremlin have seized on the idea of ​​a new civil war and efforts by states like Texas to secede from the union.

Amy Cooter, who directs research at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, worries that the current wave of talk about the civil war will only increase as the election approaches. Until now, it has generally been limited to far-right message boards. But immigration is generally enough of a concern that its political potency will intensify, Ella Cooter said.

“Non-extremist Americans are also concerned about this,” he said. “It’s about culture and perceptions about who is American.”

Meanwhile, there are people like Rudy Menchaca, a bar owner in Eagle Pass who also works for a company that imports Corona beer from Mexico and blamed the problems at the border for hurting business.

Menchaca is the type of Hispanic voter that Biden is counting on to support his re-election bid. The 27-year-old said he was never a fan of Trump’s rhetoric and how he portrayed Hispanics and Mexicans. “Not all of us are like that,” he said.

But he also said he was excited about endorsing the former president because of the reality on the ground.

“I need those soldiers around if I have my business,” Menchaca said of the Texas forces sent to the border. “The bad guys who come in could get in.”


Weissert reported from Washington. Associated Press writers David Klepper in Washington and Matt Brown in Chicago contributed to this report.

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