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‘These aren’t people,’ the president said.
Trump’s comments came during a roundtable discussion with California sheriffs, after Fresno Sheriff Margaret Mims had said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency that detains undocumented people across the country, cannot talk to detained immigrants unless “they reach a certain threshold.”
Mims then went on to say that if she hypothetically knew about a member of the gang M-13, she wouldn’t be able to tell ICE about them if it weren’t for this threshold. That’s when Trump chimed in.
“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,” Trump stated.
In response, Trump’s critics have slammed him for dehumanizing immigrants by directly calling them animals.
I’m sick of living in a country where Trump refers to immigrants as “animals”, and Stephen Miller collects a WH salary, paid for by hard working Americans of every race, religion and gender. #TheResistance
— Omar Vaid (@omarvaid) May 17, 2018
Trump on undocumented immigrants:
"These aren't people. These are animals."
The President of the United States said those words today. Out loud.
There. Is. No. Bottom.
— Randi Mayem Singer (@rmayemsinger) May 17, 2018
Donald Trump speaking today during a roundtable on immigration policy:
“These aren’t people. These are animals.”
That is not POLICY. That is BIGOTRY.
— Ryan Knight 🇺🇸 (@ProudResister) May 17, 2018
Many have used Trump’s comments to compare him to Adolf Hitler and Nazis, who dehumanized Jews and other marginalized groups as justification for their murder.
Who said this, Hitler or Trump? "These aren't people. These are animals." https://t.co/VJwrbYdKne
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) May 16, 2018
Trump is in very bad company.
Nazis referred to Jews as “rats”.
Slave-owners viewed slaves as sub-human animals. https://t.co/HMXDWSrNRu
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) May 17, 2018
Trump has demanded that people stand for the National Anthem, called Nazis fine people, said not clapping for him is treason, planned a parade for himself, and referred to people he considers “others” as animals, but pls tell me more about how comparing him to Hitler is unfair.
— OhNoSheTwitnt (@OhNoSheTwitnt) May 17, 2018
- Living with the constant threat of death as a Black American
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Trump supporters, however, have argued that Trump’s comments were specifically made regarding members of the gang MS-13, and have shamed critics and news outlets for sharing this soundbite of the president without this context.
Trump was responding to a specific question about MS-13, the most ruthless, violent gang in America. By cutting out the context this makes it look like he’s calling all illegal immigrants ‘animals’, which he wasn’t.
So it becomes deliberately misleading.. or ‘fake’.. news. 👎 https://t.co/eECpEr9BHO
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 17, 2018
He was specifically talking about MS-13, and you know it. They are animals. I know you would rather side with them than Trump as you so often make clear but it’s a bad look for you Andrea. https://t.co/Mgoj1celNv
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 17, 2018
Trump gets to call human beings animals because when we argue with him, he gets to say that liberals are defending MS-13.
It's clear from the context that he's talking about MS-13, but it's also clear that he wants to paint undocumented immigrants with the broadest brush.
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) May 17, 2018
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) May 17, 2018
Based off Trump’s comments, and the general context in which he made them, it’s unclear whether the president was actually referencing members of the gang MS-13. However, even paring down Trump’s comments to talking about gang members, aka “criminals,” as opposed to undocumented immigrants, still means the president’s comments were dehumanizing to criminals, who are people nonetheless.
When @realDonaldTrump referred to deported Latino immigrants as “animals” it cut to the quick. They’re not animals-The vast majority are law-abiding folk looking for a better life for their families. @DonaldJTrumpJr says @POTUS was only speaking of gang bangers like #MS13 Still..
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) May 17, 2018
My relatives aren't animals. Also, his response wasn't confined to MS13 members, which is what some Trump apologists will try to tell you. He categorically dehumanized people he doesn't know & wouldn't help if they were dying in front of him. We are better than this. https://t.co/fPymA3pJYh
— Jess Phoenix (@jessphoenix2018) May 17, 2018
I think it's fair to say Trump's "they're animals" comment was in reference to MS-13, not immigrants at large.
I think it's also fair to point out the inhumanity of Trump's policy of separating immigrant children from their families and storing them in military warehouses.
— Sam Stein (@samstein) May 17, 2018
"But Trump was talking about MS13!" is evil.
Why does he talk about MS13? To identify immigrants with criminals. The point of calling them "animals" is to identify immigrants with animals.
But every member of MS13 is human. Every human has dignity that demands respect.
— Will Wilkinson 🌐 (@willwilkinson) May 17, 2018
Comments disparaging immigrants are not the first from the president. Shortly after announcing his campaign, Trump called Mexicans “rapists,” and doubled down on those comments recently when speaking about the caravan of migrants from Central America. Trump also asked earlier this year why the U.S. isn’t taking in immigrants from countries such as Norway, and instead accepts immigrants from “shithole countries,” a term he used in reference to Haiti and African countries.
Trump called Mexicans rapists in 1st 2 mins of his campaign. I can’t understate the level of exhaustion 3 yrs of u all *almost-but-not-quite* being ready 2 find his hatred of immigrants beyond-the-pale has created. Like what else do y’all have 2 hear? This animal stuff isn’t new.
— Alida Garcia (@leedsgarcia) May 17, 2018
The World According To Trump
– – – – – – –
Haitians: all have AIDS
Nigerians: live in huts
Africa: shithole countries
Protesters: sons of bitches
Dead soldiers: [crickets]
War widows: liars
Puerto Ricans: lazy
Pedophiles: OK, if Republican
Nazis: good people
— Jeff Tiedrich (@jefftiedrich) May 17, 2018
To people pretending to believe Trump’s “animals” comment was anything but a broad-brushed racial slur, let’s be clear: Trump has *always* been this way.
— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) May 17, 2018
Regardless of which group of people the president was referencing, these dehumanizing comments appear to be part of a larger pattern when it comes to Trump and immigration. That much is clear.
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.