Why Donald Trump’s alarmist message on immigration may be resonating beyond his base
Image via AP.

Donald Trump
'Certainly the last several months have demonstrated a clear shift in political support.'

The video shared by former President Donald Trump features horror movie music and footage of migrants purportedly entering the U.S. from countries including Cameroon, Afghanistan and China. Shots of men with tattoos and videos of violent crime are set against close-ups of people waving and wrapping themselves in American flags.

“They’re 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 ramped up anti-immigrant rhetoric as he seeks the White House a third time, casting migrants as dangerous criminals “poisoning the blood” of America. Hitting the nation’s deepest fault lines of race and national identity, his messaging often relies on falsehoods about migration. But it resonates with many of his core supporters going back a decade, to when “build the wall” chants began to ring out at his rallies.

President Joe Biden and his allies discuss the border very differently. The Democrat portrays the situation as a policy dispute that Congress can fix and hits Republicans in Washington for backing away from a border security deal 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 this November.

Roughly two-thirds of Americans now disapprove of how Biden is handling border security, including about 4 in 10 Democrats, 55% of Black adults and 73% of Hispanic adults, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted in March.

recent Pew Research Center poll 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 shelter newly arriving migrants. She argued Democrats should be focusing on economic investment in Black communities, not newcomers.

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

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

“It’s horrible,” she said. “It’s tons and tons of people and they’re giving them medical and money, phones,” she said, complaining 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 an overtaking” that had changed the town.

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

Immigration will almost certainly be one of the central issues in November’s election, with both sides spending the next six months trying to paint the other as wrong on border security.

The president’s reelection campaign recently launched a $30 million ad 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 drastically tighten immigration restrictions, effectively going around Congress after it failed to pass the bipartisan deal Biden endorsed.

“Trump is a fraud who is only out for himself,” said Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz. “We will make sure voters know that this November.”

Trump will campaign Tuesday in Wisconsin and Michigan this week, where he is expected to again tear into Biden on immigration. His campaign said his event in the western Michigan city of Grand Rapids will focus on what it alleged was “Biden’s Border Bloodbath.”

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

He also casts migrants — many of them women and children escaping poverty and violence — as “poisoning the blood” of America with drugs and disease and claimed some are “not people.” Experts who study extremism warn against using dehumanizing language in describing migrants.

There is no evidence that foreign governments are emptying their jails or mental asylums as Trump says. And while conservative news coverage has been dominated by several high-profile and heinous crimes allegedly committed by people in the country illegally, the latest FBI statistics show overall violent crime in the U.S. dropped again last year, continuing a downward trend after a pandemic-era spike.

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

“Certainly the last several 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 past several years,” she said, “and just this dynamic of being outmatched by a loud, extreme of xenophobic rhetoric that hasn’t been countered with reality and the facts on the ground.”

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

Trump allies, most notably Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have used state-funded buses to send more than 100,000 migrants to Democratic-led cities like New York, Denver and Chicago, where Democrats will hold this Summer’s convention. 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 for new groups of migrants.

Local news coverage, meanwhile, has often been negative. Viewers have seen migrants blamed for everything from a string of gang-related New Jersey robberies to burglary rings targeting retail stores in suburban Philadelphia to 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 U.S. Supreme Court orders, and has argued his state should be able to enforce its own immigration laws.

Some far-right internet sites have begun pointing to Abbott’s actions as the first salvo in a coming civil war. And Russia has also helped spread and amplify misleading and incendiary content about U.S. immigration and border security as part of its broader efforts to polarize Americans. A recent analysis by the firm Logically, which tracks Russian disinformation, found 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 the current wave of civil war talk will only increase as the election nears. So far, it has generally been limited to far-right message boards. But immigration is enough of a concern generally that its political potency is intensified, Cooter said.

“Non-extremist Americans are worried about this, too,” she said. “It’s about culture and perceptions about who is an American.”

In the meantime, there are people like Rudy Menchaca, an Eagle Pass bar owner 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 kind of Hispanic voter Biden is counting on to back his reelection bid. The 27-year-old said he was never a fan of Trump’s rhetoric and how he portrayed Hispanics and Mexicans. “We’re not all like that,” he said.

But he also said he was warming to the idea of backing the former president because of the reality on the ground.

“I need those soldiers to be around if I have my business,” Menchaca said of Texas forces dispatched to the border. “The bad ones that come in could break in.”

___

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


13 comments

  • Interesting

    April 1, 2024 at 5:16 pm

    Just show the video of the tattooed Trump flagged men and women attacking police officers and our Capital on Jan 6. I think they were all white. They wrapped themselves in the American flag and hung the treasonous flag with the word Trump on it. Where did they come from ??? Oh Florida

    • rick whitaker

      April 1, 2024 at 5:26 pm

      interesting, maybe they could use the methods used in ” a clockwork orange ” on the maga cultist’.

    • Impeach Biden

      April 1, 2024 at 8:10 pm

      Attacking with what? Cell phones and US Flags? One unarmed protestor was shot and killed that day by a Capitol Police Officer.

      • Tom

        April 2, 2024 at 8:14 am

        Yea … seems innocent enough.

        The investigation further determined that Ms. Babbitt was among a mob of people that entered the Capitol building and gained access to a hallway outside “Speaker’s Lobby,” which leads to the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. At the time, the USCP was evacuating Members from the Chamber, which the mob was trying to enter from multiple doorways. USCP officers used furniture to barricade a set of glass doors separating the hallway and Speaker’s Lobby to try and stop the mob from entering the Speaker’s Lobby and the Chamber, and three officers positioned themselves between the doors and the mob. Members of the mob attempted to break through the doors by striking them and breaking the glass with their hands, flagpoles, helmets, and other objects. Eventually, the three USCP officers positioned outside the doors were forced to evacuate. As members of the mob continued to strike the glass doors, Ms. Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out. An officer inside the Speaker’s Lobby fired one round from his service pistol, striking Ms. Babbitt in the left shoulder, causing her to fall back from the doorway and onto the floor. A USCP emergency response team, which had begun making its way into the hallway to try and subdue the mob, administered aid to Ms. Babbitt, who was transported to Washington Hospital Center, where she succumbed to her injuries.

      • Tom

        April 2, 2024 at 9:36 am

        You’re kidding, right?
        “The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242. Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber.”

      • Flags My Ass

        April 3, 2024 at 1:32 pm

        “Cell phones and US Flags?” you ask. How very disingenuous of you. They used flagpoles, pepper spray, bear spray, clubs, metal fire extinguishers, pieces of furniture, helmets, shields, fists, feet, etc. Afraid to watch the videos? It’s all there, if you dare.
        But you wouldn’t want to take the time, I’ll bet. Easier to think it was all a walk in the park.

      • Rick Whitaker

        April 4, 2024 at 10:29 am

        IB, dude your posts opinions or whatever you call them are meant to irritate or annoy a smart normal thinking person. you are like a childish bully. why are you so compelled to state such obviously wrong statements full of lies and misconceptions. a psychoanalysis expert would have no problem in diagnosing you with your simplistic sick mind. for you to get joy from lying, is a problem dude. grow up

  • Earl Pitts "THE NEW MAYOR OF REALVILLE" American

    April 3, 2024 at 7:07 am

    Good Morn ‘Ting America,
    As I, Earl Pitts American, have taught you, every Sage Patriot along with most of my Besty Lefty’s already have classified the above artical as yet another annoying 100% A. P. artical.
    GREAT WORK FOLLOWING MY “SAGE TEACHINGS”, said Earl.
    SO LETS DIG A LITTLE DEEPER:
    My Sage fans of Earl’s Knowledge Drops lets focus our Sage Eyes on the Dook Lefty Surragot Commenters “Chiming In” in what (Before Earl) was a totally working “Evil Leftist Stratigy” which now has been “Shot All To HEII” by my Sage online teachings, wisdom nugget drops, and All Things “EARL”.
    SO NOW WE ALL KNOW AND REJECT the former successful propaganda “PURE D EVILNESS” of the A. P. and their “Chiming In Surragot Commenters”.
    Now that y’all got Earl …… that Lame @55 Propaganda $hizz “Just Dont Work Any Longer”.
    Thank you, Sage Fans of Earl,
    Earl Pitts American

    • S. Wabbit

      April 3, 2024 at 1:33 pm

      You dook.

      • Earl Pitts "THE NEW MAYOR OF REALVILLE" American

        April 3, 2024 at 7:14 pm

        Earl loves The Wabbit !!!!!

    • Rick Whitaker

      April 4, 2024 at 10:34 am

      earl, the AP is such a fine source for up to date accurate information, thanks for talking about the AP people so much. with your reputation as an idiot, it will drive the smart people right toward the AP. again, thanks.

    • Rick Whitaker

      April 4, 2024 at 7:51 pm

      WARNING PSYCHO TROLL COMMENT BY EARL SHITBREATHE

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 4, 2024 at 8:43 pm

    Does anybody believe Trump will accomplish anything on the border?

    He didn’t accomplish any of the things he promised he would do during his unfortunate term as President.

    He just prevented the current administration from getting the border done properly, via Congress, not just Presidential proclamations that the next guy undoes on Day One if he wants to undo them.

    Third time’s a charm, huh?

    How many times will people let a King Cobra bite them?

    Seriously, Stew Pied MAGGAs will fall for anything.

Comments are closed.


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