Trump Pushes Immigration Conspiracy Theories and Mass Deportations
Former President Donald J. Trump, in an interview that aired on Fox News on Sunday, suggested falsely that Latin American governments were picking the citizens they didn’t want and shipping them to the U.S. border, resurrecting a claim that was central to his 2016 campaign.
He also accused the Chinese Communist Party — without providing any evidence — of orchestrating illegal immigration into the United States, and said he believed China would try to interfere in the presidential election, adding that he liked President Xi Jinping “a lot.”
Asked by the interviewer, Maria Bartiromo, whether he thought “military-aged men” from China were “being directed by the Communist Party to come here,” Mr. Trump said: “I believe so.”
Referring to a recent incident in New York City in which a group of men identified by police officials as migrants from Latin America attacked police officers, Mr. Trump said: “The heads of these countries are smart. They’re not sending the people that are doing a great job and that they love in the country. They’re sending people, for the most part, that they don’t want, and they’re putting them into caravans.”
That statement echoed one of the most incendiary lines from his first campaign announcement speech in 2015: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said at the time, continuing: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” He also has repeatedly and falsely said that migrants from South and Central America are coming from “mental institutions” and jails.
Mr. Trump also spoke approvingly, as he has before, of the military-style mass deportation of Mexican immigrants under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“He was very strong on deportation, because a lot of people were coming into our country illegally, and he started a big, mass deportation,” Mr. Trump said. “He dropped them very close to the border, and they came back. Then he dropped them 2,000 miles away, and they didn’t come back.”
Mass deportations are part of an extreme expansion of the anti-immigration policy that Mr. Trump is planning if he is elected again.
The interview was conducted on Thursday, before the military strikes on Saturday against multiple sites in Yemen controlled by Houthi militants.
While much of the conversation focused on immigration and international affairs, there was also discussion of domestic politics.
Ms. Bartiromo asked Mr. Trump about Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, with whom he has had a rocky relationship. He suggested that he would like to see her replaced. “I think she did OK initially in the R.N.C.,” he said. “I would say right now, there’ll probably be some changes made.”
He spoke as the party gathered in Las Vegas for its annual meeting, at which the conversation was largely about Mr. Trump’s hold over the R.N.C. and Ms. McDaniel’s future as its leader. Mr. Trump first recommended Ms. McDaniel to be chairwoman in 2016, and she served as a loyal leader throughout the 2020 election cycle and beyond. The two have communicated directly and frequently even when they have disagreed. Mr. Trump, for instance, refused to participate in any of the party’s primary debates this cycle, and his team publicly pressured the party to cancel future ones.
In a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Mr. Trump’s last Republican primary opponent, Nikki Haley, repeated an attack she has made multiple times over the past two weeks, accusing Mr. Trump of “playing politics with the border.” Mr. Trump has been loudly trying to kill a bipartisan immigration and border security deal in Congress.
“He shouldn’t be getting involved, telling Republicans that, wait until the election because we don’t want this to help Biden win,” Ms. Haley said, adding, “He’s absolutely playing politics by telling them not to do anything.”
She walked back previous comments in which she had said Texas had the right to secede, despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled in 1869 that unilateral secession was unconstitutional.
The discussion of secession stemmed from a recent Supreme Court decision allowing the Biden administration to remove a concertina-wire barrier that Texas had placed along the southern border.
“Texas has talked about seceding for a long time,” Ms. Haley said. “The Constitution doesn’t allow for that.” But she suggested that she understood the impulse because “people don’t think that government is listening to them.”
Ms. Haley also showed up on “Saturday Night Live,” appearing in a skit as a “South Carolina voter” at a CNN Trump town hall, asking why he refused to debate her.
Shane Goldmacher contributed reporting.