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Trump Doubles Down on Migrants ‘Poisoning’ the Country

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Trump Doubles Down on Migrants ‘Poisoning’ the Country

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Former President Donald J. Trump, in an interview broadcast Sunday, doubled down on his description of immigrants as “poisoning the blood” of the country, language that echoes Hitler.

“Why do you use words like ‘vermin’ and ‘poisoning of the blood’?” Howard Kurtz, the media critic and interviewer, asked on Fox News. “The press, as you know, immediately reacts to that by saying, ‘Well, that’s the kind of language that Hitler and Mussolini used.’”

“Because our country is being poisoned,” Mr. Trump responded.

He also repeated a claim he has made many times: that the migrants crossing the southern border are criminals flooding in from prisons and mental institutions.

Evidence does not support that. According to border officials, most migrants are families fleeing violence and poverty, and despite a few high-profile cases, data show no increase in crime attributable to immigration. Crime rates, including that of murder, declined last year.

“We can be nice about it, we can talk about, ‘Oh, I want to be politically correct,’” Mr. Trump said. “But we have people coming in from prisons and jails, long-term murderers, people with sentences that the rest of their lives they’re going to spend in some jail in some country that many people have never even heard of. They’re all being released into our country.”

He went on: “These are people at the highest level of crime, and then you have mental institutions and insane asylums — I always say the difference is one is ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ you know, it’s a mental institution on steroids, OK? — and those mental institutions and insane asylums are being emptied out into the United States, and then you have terrorists pouring in at levels we have never seen before.”

Mr. Trump’s demonization of migrants has been a mainstay since he announced his first campaign in 2015 with a speech calling Mexicans rapists. But his rhetoric has become more extreme in his current campaign, and the dehumanization more explicit.

In addition to using the phrase “poisoning the blood,” which he started saying last fall, he has gone even further lately in demonizing migrants in his public comments. In a speech in Ohio on Saturday, he called migrants “animals” and said: “I don’t know if you call them ‘people,’ in some cases. They’re not people, in my opinion.”

He has similarly demeaned his political opponents, vowing in November to “root out” the “radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

The nearly hourlong interview that Fox News aired on Sunday covered a range of topics, including abortion, NATO and the potential TikTok ban that the House passed on a bipartisan basis last week and that Mr. Trump recently changed his position to oppose.

He said he didn’t want to ban TikTok because then more people would use Facebook, which he said was worse. He denied that his reversal was related to his recent meeting with a billionaire who has a stake in the company that owns TikTok.

He said he would decide on abortion proposals “pretty soon”; he has said privately that he supports a 16-week ban, and his allies want him to take executive or administrative actions to effectively ban abortion without going through the legislative process. He gave no details in the interview, deflecting by saying Democrats supported third-trimester abortions (which account for less than 1 percent of procedures) and abortions “after birth” (which don’t exist).

Weeks after saying he would encourage Russia to invade NATO members that didn’t pay the alliance enough, he claimed falsely that, as a result, “countries that were late on their payments or not paying at all have paid up.” The alliance’s payment structure doesn’t work the way Mr. Trump described — some countries aren’t meeting unofficial commitments to spend 2 percent of G.D.P. on defense, but nobody owes dues to the alliance — and nothing significant has changed since he made the remarks last month.

Mr. Trump also repeated his most perennial of lies: that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“You can cut this if you want,” he said, “but the election was rigged.”

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