Trump continues to demonize migrants, falsely claims they’re ‘building an army’

Written by on May 24, 2024

James Devaney/GC Images

(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump ratcheted up his anti-immigrant rhetoric at a rally in the South Bronx, where he claimed, without evidence, that migrants coming to the U.S. are forming an “army.”

The comments are part of the dark narrative Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, is advancing on the 2024 campaign trial that what is occurring at the southern border amounts to an invasion.

With New York as his backdrop, a city that’s reckoned with housing a surge of migrants seeking asylum in recent years, Trump continued to demonize immigrants.

“They come from Africa. They come from Asia. They come from all over the world. They come from the Middle East, Yemen … Large numbers of people are coming in from China,” he said. “And if you look at these people, did you see them? They are physically fit. They’re 19 to 25. Almost everyone is a male, and they look like fighting age.”

“I think they’re building an army … they want to get us from within,” he said.

“They’re building something,” Trump repeated. “They have something in mind. We’re gonna end all of that stuff.”

Trump went on to reiterate his threat to lead the “largest criminal deportation operation in our country’s history because this situation is unsustainable.” Though experts told ABC News his plan would be extremely difficult to carry out, and would have adverse consequences on the nation if it were to be implemented.

The comments prompted the crowd to begin chanting, “Send them back.”

Trump previously made similar comments specifically about migrants from China, telling conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt last month they, too, were “probably building an army.” Again, he didn’t provide any evidence to back up his claim.

Trump at his campaign rally also continued to claim, without evidence, that many migrants are coming from the “jails” and “mental institutions” of other nations and are committing a new category of “migrant crime.”

But studies have shown U.S.-born citizens more likely to be arrested for violent crimes.

Trump’s rally comments came hours after lawmakers on Capitol Hill held a showdown vote on border security, with the Senate again failing to advance a package negotiated earlier this year by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The bill was largely quashed by Trump, who told Republicans earlier this year not to accept it — prompting Democrats to accuse conservative lawmakers of caring more about appeasing Trump than fixing issues within the immigration system.

“By blocking the bipartisan border agreement, Republicans in Congress said no to legislation that would hire more Border Patrol Agents, add more immigration judges and asylum officers to process cases in months and not years,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “They said no to new technology to detect and stop fentanyl from entering the United States, and no to resources to go after drug traffickers. They rejected an agreement that would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to temporarily shut down the border when the system is overwhelmed.”

ABC News’ Lalee Ibssa, Kelsey Walsh and Soorin Kim contributed to this report.

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