People For the American Way

Challenging Trump’s Dehumanizing, Dangerous, Anti-Immigrant “Animals” Comment

News and Analysis

On Wednesday, May 16, Donald Trump convened a “sanctuary cities” roundtable at the White House. Trump deployed many of the same bigoted tactics there that he has used since his 2016 campaign. He told violent stories about “illegal immigrant criminals, drug dealers, gang members and violent predators” without any mention of how immigrants truly do make America great in many ways, including improving the economy, creating jobs, paying taxes – and, not to mention, committing less crimes than native born Americans. During the event, Trump responded to a sheriff’s complaints about the California sanctuary law and the MS-13 gang by calling some undocumented immigrants “animals.” He said:

“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in—and we’re stopping a lot of them—but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.”

The Trump administration has consistently twisted words and ignored facts to criminalize immigrants. Since early 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has traveled the country speaking about drugs, human trafficking, guns, and immigration with a disproportionate focus on the MS-13 gang—while Trump and Republicans have brought a national focus to victims of MS-13 violence to sow even more fear. Trump calling some immigrants “animals” came on the heels of an interview that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly gave to NPR in which he claimed that the “vast majority of people that move illegally into the United States are not… people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society.”

The latest Trump and Kelly comments are unconscionable, especially when considered alongside the rest of the administration’s anti-immigrant actions, including:

The result of the Trump administration’s persistent rhetoric of fear and danger, and his racist invective against immigrants, is the dehumanization of humans. It is a deeply disturbing psychology that was used by Europeans against Native Americans and sub-Saharan Africans, slave owners in America, Nazis in Germany, and Hutus in Rwanda. The message of fear that Trump is sending is surely reaching his supporters who have enthusiastically backed him through every inhumane action.

That is why PFAW refuses to let these moments go unchecked.

“We’re challenging this hate head-on by mobilizing Latino voters to take their outrage to the polls,” said Lizet Ocampo, PFAW’s political director. “2018 is shaping up to be a year of consequences for Trump’s extremism—and for Republicans who have enabled his hate.  If there’s a blue wave election this year, it’s going to be led by the Latino community. We’re working to make that happen.”

The ad seen above, which has both English and Spanish language versions, are up on news websites and will specifically reach Latinx voters in states including California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Florida.