Donald Trump’s latest attack on immigrants came in a campaign speech this weekend. At a rally in Durham, New Hampshire, on Saturday, Trump pledged to crack down on immigration if re-elected, claiming: “They’re poisoning the blood of our country, that’s what they’ve done…They’re coming into our country from Africa, from Asia, all over the world, they’re pouring into our country, nobody’s even looking at them. They just come in. The crime is going to be tremendous.” (You can watch the full remarks at the 47:20 mark.)
The Biden campaign quickly moved to condemn Trump’s remarks, with spokesperson Ammar Moussa responding to Saturday’s rally—and the anti-immigrant remarks specifically—by saying the former president “channeled his role models as he parroted Adolf Hitler, praised Kim Jong Un, and quoted Vladimir Putin while running for president on a promise to rule as a dictator and threaten American democracy.”
This is, of course, far from the first time Trump has dehumanized immigrants (despite being married to one): He has called undocumented immigrants “animals” (Trump claimed he was specifically referring to members of the violent gang MS-13), and his advisors say that if he’s re-elected, he’ll try to detain millions of undocumented immigrants, attempt to end birthright citizenship, renew a version of the Muslim ban, and seek to deny visas to foreigners whose politics his advisers don’t like, according to a bombshell New York Times report.
But his latest comments invoke a specifically racist and genocidal history, according to scholars who study fascism. Yale Professor of Philosophy Jason Stanley told Reuters that Trump’s comments echo those of Adolf Hitler, who warned about Jewish people “poisoning” the blood of Germans. “Repeating dangerous speech increases its normalization and the practices it recommends,” Stanley told Reuters. “This is very concerning talk for the safety of immigrants in the US.”
As I reported last month, Trump also degraded his political enemies as “vermin”—a remark that Stanley and other scholars also noted was used by Hitler as a tool of dehumanization.
Yet some of Trump’s most influential fellow Republicans still refuse to forcefully condemn his language. On NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) initially told host Kristen Welker he “could care less” about Trump’s choice of words, but later appeared to subtly rebuke the remarks.
“The president has a way of talking sometimes I disagree with, but he actually delivered on the border,” Graham said. “If the only thing you want to talk about on immigration is the way Donald Trump talks, you’re missing a lot.”
WATCH: Sen. @LindseyGrahamSC (R-S.C.) says he "could care less" what language Trump uses to describe migrants, as the Biden campaign accuses Trump of parroting Hitler.
"You're talking about Donald Trump's language as you … allow the country to be invaded" via the border. pic.twitter.com/FLbor4YvOr
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) December 17, 2023
One of Trump’s GOP challengers for the nomination, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, took his opponents to task on CBS’ Face the Nation, saying he was “surprised” they didn’t condemn Trump’s racist comments. “I don’t know how you can take someone like that and say that they’re fit to be president of the United States,” he said.
In other notable remarks at the rally on Saturday, Trump repeated his debunked claim that the 2020 election was rigged; said that he likes businessman and GOP challenger Vivek Ramaswamy “cause he likes Trump”; and praised the far-right prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, for saying “Trump is the man who can save the western world.”
Jennifer Mercieca, a professor at Texas A&M University who researches democracy and rhetoric, told the Washington Post that Trump “sees American democracy as a sham and he wants to convince his followers to see it that way too.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to my request for comment about the critiques.
The rally comes just a month before the New Hampshire primary, where Trump is in the lead among GOP contenders, polling at over 44 percent, while his closest challenger, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, is polling at 29 percent, according to a new CBS News/YouGov poll out today.