*Conservative pundits are outraged because the critics who slammed Donald Trump for his comments about immigrants who enter the US through Mexico let President Obama slide for using the term “gangbangers” while discussing illegal immigration. To the right wing this alleged double standard is another example of anti-conservative bias by the so-called “liberal mainstream media.” But the allegations here are completely baseless because there is a world of difference between what Trump and the President actually said about undocumented immigrants and crime.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Madison, Tennessee three days before the Fourth of July 1, President Obama accurately pointed out that individual undocumented immigrants commit crimes including gang crimes. He reiterated that such individuals should be the focus of the Federal government’s deportation efforts. But, in sharp contrast to Trump, The President did not condemn the immigrant community as a whole. Here is President Obama’s comment, transcribed from a video recorded by WhiteHouse.gov:
“We should not be encouraging illegal immigration. What we should be doing is setting up a smart, legal immigration system that doesn’t separate families, but does focus on making sure that people who are dangerous, people who are gangbangers or criminals — that we’re deporting them as quickly as possible.”
(The President went on to remind the audience that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives killed immigration reform by refusing to bring the bipartisan Senate bill to a vote.)
President Obama’s remarks are in a completely different category from the comments Donald Trump made when he announced his White House bid on June 16. Trump painted the entire immigrant community with a brush of criminal condemnation when he declared:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best possible. They’re sending those that have an entire lot of points, they usually they’re bringing these problems with us. They’re bringing medicine. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And a few, I assume, are wonderful different individuals.”
With those words, Trump claimed that the majority of Mexican immigrants are dangerous criminals and that only “a few” are decent people. But throughout his two terms in the Oval Office, President Obama has been consistent in stating his belief that the majority of immigrants who enter the US through Mexico (with or without documentation) are good, hardworking, family oriented people – and that only a small subset of the immigrant population commits crimes. That’s the point the President was making when he mentioned “gangbangers” at that town hall last week.
Inflated outrage and false finger pointing at President Obama and the media cannot obscure the fact that Donald Trump — the second highest polling candidate for the Republican presidential nomination — insulted Latinos and divided the nation with foul, indefensible, classically prejudiced statements of the worst sort. Trump is not merely a disgrace, he is a threat to the struggle toward racial and ethnic harmony. And his presence near the top of GOP voter polls further shreds the Republican Party’s unconvincing claim that it has a big tent where all Americans are welcome.
Thank you for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.