Responding to the migrant family separation crisis this month, President Trump returned to a familiar rhetorical device.
“The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” Trump said. “You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places; we can’t allow that to happen to the United States. Not on my watch.”
The implication was clear enough: Immigrants fleeing violence and poverty were, in fact, bringing those problems with them to the United States. Conflating asylum-seeking families at the southern border with criminals and terrorists was entirely the point. And it’s something Trump has done for years — watch the video above for dozens of examples.
“People are streaming across the border. … They’re coming in and they’re killing,” Trump said in 2010.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said in announcing his presidential candidacy in 2015. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
“You hear it’s like they’re better people than what we have, than our citizens,” Trump said on Friday. “It’s not true.”
Despite a plethora of evidence showing that both undocumented and legal immigrants commit less crime than native-born citizens, Trump has accused immigrants of being:
- Drug dealers
- Gang members
- Job stealers
- Democratic voters
- A Trojan horse
Trump has already taken steps to deter legal and illegal immigration, including separating migrant families, threatening immigrants' due-process rights and sabotaging bipartisan legislation that does not cut legal immigration.
- 690,000 “dreamers”
- 195,000 Salvadorans
- 57,000 Hondurans
- 46,000 Haitians
- 8,900 Nepalis
- 2,500 Nicaraguans
- 1,000 Sudanese
The exception to Trump’s own rule seems to be European immigrants.
“Why aren't we letting people in from Europe?” Trump asked at CPAC in 2013.
And when a reporter asked Trump about his proposed Muslim ban in 2016, he said a Muslim immigrating from the United Kingdom “wouldn’t bother” him.
As Trump flirted with a presidential run in 1999, he told the New York Times, “I’m opposed to new people coming in.”
“We have to take care of the people who are here,’ Trump added.
Seventeen years later, Trump was singing a familiar tune while defending his original “travel ban.”
“The president has the right to keep people out if he feels it’s not in the best interest of our country, right?” Trump said, before tossing the printout of the ban’s legal defense over his shoulder.
This post has been updated.