President Donald Trump on Saturday denounced US asylum law as a “scam” and implied that the wave of Central American families seeking asylum in the US were actually dangerous gang members.
“The asylum program is a scam,” Trump said. “Some of the roughest people you have ever seen. People that look like they should be fighting for the UFC.”
Trump made the comments during a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Nevada. His remarks came amid a surge of asylum-seekers that has overwhelmed Customs and Border Protection and fueled Trump’s cries of an “emergency” at the southern border.
Despite Trump’s brutish characterization of the migrants, CBP data shows that the majority of those crossing the US-Mexico border are families, including women and children.
Trump accused lawyers of coaching the migrants on what to say at the US-Mexico border to request asylum. At one point during the speech, he even mockingly imitated a migrant reading from a script.
“You look at us and you say, ‘Wow, that’s a tough cookie,'” Trump said. “‘I am very fearful for my life. I am very worried that I will be accosted if I am sent back home.'”
He continued: “No, no. He’ll do the accosting.”
Trump then imitated immigration advocates who have pushed for the US to adopt more expansive policies to allow asylum-seekers into the country.
“Asylum — oh give him asylum! He’s afraid, he’s afraid. We don’t love the fact that he’s got tattoos on his face, that’s not a good sign. We don’t love the fact that he’s carrying the flag of Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador only to say he’s petrified to be in his country,” Trump said. “To confront this border crisis I declared a national emergency.”
The crowd laughed and applauded throughout his comments.