Trump Says Democrats Encourage Voting by Undocumented Immigrants

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump claimed that Democrats encourage undocumented immigrants to vote illegally, part of a lengthy attack on migrants, U.S. immigration policy and the opposition party at a campaign rally on Monday.

Trump, who has been trying to make illegal immigration a key issue in the midterm congressional elections, did not provide evidence. The allegation builds on unsubstantiated claims he has previously made that 3 million undocumented people voted for his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton. A panel commissioned by the White House to investigate was disbanded in January without presenting findings amid reports it found no widespread voter fraud.

Trump is traveling the country in an attempt to preserve Republican control of Congress with polls showing Democrats likely to win at least the House in November midterm elections. At a rally in Houston on behalf of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, he said Democrats are “openly encouraging many millions of illegal aliens to violate our laws,” using language normally reserved for America’s enemies to describe his political opposition.

“The Democrats have launched an assault on the sovereignty of our country, the security of our nation and the safety of every single American,” Trump said, declaring that they “don’t care what their extremist immigration agenda will do to your neighborhoods, to your hospitals, or to your schools.”

The president has shown increasing alarm about a large group of migrants making their way from Honduras toward the U.S. border, and has said he’ll end U.S. aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador because those countries didn’t stop thousands of their citizens from joining what he’s called a “caravan.”

Trump has also said he’ll deploy the American military to the Mexican border to stop the migrants from entering the country, where many of them hope to claim asylum.

Trump said that Democrats want “illegals” to be able to vote, adding, “and by the way, you go to California, don’t worry about it, they vote anyway. And they’re not supposed to.”

“You’ve got so many voting illegally in this country, it’s a disgrace,” he said, adding that Americans everywhere should be required to present ID to cast a ballot. “The only thing you don’t have to do it for is when you vote.”

Democrats say that Trump is misleading the American public with many of his claims with regards to the migrants, including his statements Monday that the group includes criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners” -- another statement he failed to back up with evidence.

“The president is not telling the truth when it comes to the people who are in the caravan,” Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, told CNN on Tuesday, adding that “many are in desperate situations.”

“That doesn’t necessarily mean they can come live in America,” Cardin said, “but we certainly should not be using the language the president is with regards to the caravan.”

Cardin said the nation needs immigration reform not tactics to scare the American public.

Democrats in Congress generally have supported a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants -- but only those who meet certain criteria -- and have never proposed doing away with border rules. Democrats in 2013 led the charge to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, an effort that stalled because of opposition from Republicans who controlled the House.

On the campaign stump Monday night, Trump said Democrats support two policies he has sought to end: the Diversity Immigrant Visa program, which awards permanent U.S. residence to immigrants from countries with low levels of migration to the U.S.; and family preference in the immigration system, which allows most legal immigrants to sponsor relatives to join them in the country.

Trump complained that foreign countries use diversity visas to “dispose of their problems,” erroneously describing how the program works. Individuals apply for the visas and must undergo the same background investigation as any other person applying for entry to the U.S.

Trump blamed family preference, which he denigrates as “chain migration,” for allowing an Uzbek immigrant into the country who killed eight people in a terrorist attack last year in New York. He twice called the man an “animal,” a term he’s previously been criticized for applying to immigrants.

“It’s called chain, a chain, nice name, chain migration,” Trump said. “He’s here. His mother comes with him. His father then comes. His aunt, his uncle, his brother, his nephews, his sister. 22 people. No jobs. Just 22 people. No more chain migration.

“That’s why the Democrats want to give illegal aliens free welfare and the right to vote,” he said. He complained that he wanted to change immigration laws, but that “we have a tiny, tiny majority. I need the votes. We don’t have enough votes.”

He went on to tell an oft-repeated tale of MS-13 taking over entire towns on Long Island that were then “liberated” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

“Those people are clapping and screaming,” he said. “These guys from ICE, they walk right into these nests. They go in and they take them and they throw them into the paddy wagon and get the hell out of our country. We’ve removed thousands and thousands of these people," he added. "It’s like a war. It’s like a war zone.”

He again used the “animal” slur, saying MS-13 members “don’t like using guns because it’s too quick. They like cutting people up, slicing them, killing them, like they did to two beautiful, lovely, young girls going back home from school, killing them, slicing them, they didn’t want the guns."

“That’s right, they’re animals,” he said.

“Go out and vote Republican,” he concluded. “Do it now, or do it on Nov. 6. If you want American to endure as a sovereign, independent nation, go out and vote Republican.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.