Speaking before a mostly white audience of some of his biggest supporters on Saturday, Donald Trump asked a question that could have come straight from Pink Floyd’s anti–fascist opus The Wall.
“Any Hispanics in the room?”
Trump asked this question at a rally in Michigan, knowing full well there probably weren’t many. And those who were there probably made a quick dash for the exit. Trump, in trouble on multiple fronts from the special counsel’s Russia probe, needs his base now more than ever, and his base needs red meat. And nothing says MAGA better than abject racism.
Trump was in the process of talking about “Hispanic unemployment”—the only time the president talks about people of color in a positive light, in order to brag about himself, of course—when he asked the question he knew would elicit angry boos from the crowd. And he got his desired effect.
“But Hispanic unemployment, lowest level in history. Women, female, unemployment, lowest level in history,” Trump said to cheers.
Then he got to what he really wanted to talk about: immigration and his beloved border wall:
And our laws are so corrupt and so stupid. I call them the dumbest immigration laws anywhere on earth. If a person puts their foot over the line, we have to take them into our country, we have to register them [the crowd boos], we then have to ask them a couple of questions, lawyers are telling them what to say, how unsafe they are, and once they say that, we have to let them go to come back to court in like a year. Only one problem: They don’t come back. Ok, that’s the end. Welcome to the United States.
After calling Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents “great people,” Trump then falsely claimed that the reason undocumented immigrants seeking asylum are allowed into the country is so that they can vote for Democrats:
One of the reasons they do it is because the Democrats actually feel, and they’re probably right, that all of these people that are pouring across are going to vote for Democrats. They’re not going to vote for Republicans…But we have to have borders, and we have to have them fast, and we need security, we need the wall, we’re going to have it all…And if we don’t get border security, we’ll have no choice—we’ll close down the country.
As HuffPost and The Washington Post pointed out, this isn’t the first time Trump has asked if there are “any Hispanics in the room.” Earlier this month in South Florida, Trump asked the question rhetorically to a crowd of Americans of Cuban and Venezuelan descent. During the roundtable event, which aimed to somehow attract new Latino voters to Trump, the president also touted “the lowest level ever recorded” of “Hispanic unemployment rates,” a phrase he read from a notecard, according to the Post.