We already knew that Donald Trump’s opinion of Mexicans and Central Americans is based entirely on racism and xenophobia. We’ve known this since at least June 2015, when then–candidate Trump made those awful comments about Mexicans being rapists, drug dealers, and criminals.
Trump recently doubled (or tripled) down on the racist ideology behind his approach to foreign policy and immigration by calling African nations, Haiti, and El Salvador “shithole countries” in a private meeting with lawmakers.
Now, he’s again linking undocumented migrants coming to the U.S. from Central American countries and Mexico as drug traffickers, and recklessly threatening to cut off foreign aid to countries that “allow” illicit drugs to be trafficked into the United States.
Speaking on Friday at the Customs and Border Protection National Training Center in Virginia, Trump called out leaders from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, and blamed them for the insatiable demand for illicit drugs in the U.S.
“I want to stop the aid. If they can’t stop drugs from coming in, ‘cause they can stop them a lot easier than us. They say, ‘oh we can’t control it.’ Oh great, we’re supposed to control it,” Trump said, according to CNN. “So we give them billions and billions of dollars, and they don’t do what they’re supposed to be doing, and they know that. But we’re going to take a very harsh action.”
Trump constantly feels the need to “punish” people of color. This is clear from both his actions and public statements, which range from disparaging comments about NFL players silently protesting injustices to his all–out assault on undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
In his comments on Friday, Trump sought to link all undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America to drug trafficking, saying, “You know they’re bad.”
As CNN reported, Trump said:
“We want strong borders. We want to give you laws. We want to stop the catch and release nonsense that goes on. You catch somebody and you release them. You know they’re bad,” he said. “They’re pouring in from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, all over. They’re just pouring into our country.”
The President added: “These countries are not our friends, you know.”
“We think they’re our friends, and we send them massive aid, and I won’t mention names right now,” he said. “But I look at these countries, I look at the numbers we send them, we send them massive aid and they’re pouring drugs into our country and they’re laughing at us.”
No one’s laughing. In reality, a significant number of migrants currently making the dangerous journey to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America are children and families. According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of Central American children crossing the U.S.–Mexico border illegally has been steadily increasing since last April. This follows a sharp drop in the trend as the Trump administration unveiled its anti–immigration policies shortly after taking office last year.
What’s driving this new wave of child and family migration from the region? According to Pew, it’s not drug trafficking, but “fears of gang violence at home — fears that outweigh heightened concerns about deportation under the Trump administration.”
Last April, the number of children caught crossing the U.S.–Mexico border was under 1,000. By December, that number had increased to more than 4,000, Pew reported. The number of family groups with children caught crossing are increasing at even greater levels, Pew said, from 1,118 last April to 8,121 in December.
More than 95% of children who are caught come from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. They are people like a 19–year–old from Honduras, who recently told a Maryland circuit court the following, as reported by Pew:
He was playing ball in the street one day with five friends, all 13- and 14-year-old boys, and sat on the curb with them afterwards. He got up to leave first, and as he walked away, gangsters dressed as police officers walked up and killed the other five boys. The gang members fled, and he never learned why his friends were killed.
Or this 15–year–old from El Salvador, who explained to the court why he made the dangerous journey to the U.S. before his 15th birthday:
Had he waited until his 15th birthday, the boy said, the gangs would have recruited him by force. They scaled security fences at his school and took older boys away, threatening to kill their families if they refused, the boy said.
According to immigration attorney Jennifer Alonso, “There is a great misconception that Central Americans are coming solely to work and for economic reasons. That may have been true in recent decades but right now, I can tell you they are coming out of fear.”