Top Latina advocates decry Trump’s ‘not people’ comments

A coalition of advocacy, labor and civil rights groups led by Latinas is condemning former President Trump’s escalating rhetoric against immigrants, arguing words like his contribute to the incitement of hate crimes.

In a joint statement Wednesday, the Latina leaders sought to shake off the normalization of language that’s become part of the mainstream political discourse over the past decade — in large part because of Trump’s political successes.

“Trump’s continuous use of language that devalues the humanity of immigrants is a threat to our democracy and the core of who we are as a nation. This is the same rhetoric that he used to summon a violent mob on January 6 and then recklessly directed them to attack the U.S. Capitol,” said Vanessa Cárdenas, executive director of America’s Voice, a progressive immigration policy group.

“It’s also the same dehumanization of immigrants that has inspired domestic terrorist attacks like the mass murders at an El Paso Walmart, Buffalo grocery store, and a Pittsburgh synagogue. We cannot become numb to the fact that a major candidate for president relies on lies and dehumanizing immigrants and calls to violence as the bedrock of his campaign.”

Cárdenas was joined by a who’s who of Latina political leadership, including Lorella Praeli, co-president of Community Change Action; Bruna Sollod, senior political director at United We Dream Action; Kica Matos, president of the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund; Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino; and Rocio Sáenz, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The six Latinas were joined by Lindsay Schubiner, director of programs at Western States Strategies, the political arm of the Western States Center, an anti-hate nonprofit.

The seven women released the joint statement in response to Trump’s speech over the weekend, where he claimed that if he didn’t get elected, “it’s going to be a blood bath for the country,” while speaking about the auto industry.

Trump also reiterated his false claims that some countries in the Western Hemisphere are emptying prisons and mental hospitals and sending the former inmates on the migrant trail.

“I don’t know if you call them ‘people,’ in some cases,” Trump said in Ohio. “They’re not people, in my opinion.”

He also referred to some migrants as “animals.”

“Trump’s abhorrent and dehumanizing words against immigrants are a clear preview of what we can expect should he return to power: extreme, barbaric treatment of immigrants along with anyone suspected of being an immigrant,” said Matos.

The Trump campaign is not denying the former president’s intent to dehumanize certain categories of immigrants — it’s doubling down.

“President Trump was referring to violent illegal criminals, savage murderers like the one who brutally slaughtered Laken Riley, and MS-13 Gang Members — and most Americans would agree these vicious monsters do not deserve to be humanized,” Trump campaign communications director Steven Cheung told The Hill in an email.

Republicans, spurred by Trump, have raised Riley’s slaying as a political banner, using the individual crime to make a case against a broader swath of immigrants.

Trump’s willingness to challenge societal norms on immigration rhetoric — already part of the core of his political career — has ballooned as it’s become clear that border security is President Biden’s most obvious political liability.

“It is appalling that Joe Biden cares more about illegal immigrant criminals than American citizens and spends more time apologizing for calling them illegal than apologizing to Americans for the damage they are inflicting on our country,” wrote Cheung.

“Biden allows illegals to invade our border, uses hardworking Americans’ tax dollars to fly them around the country, and releases them from custody after they commit more crimes. President Trump will secure the southern border and deport illegal criminals to protect ALL American citizens.”

That language — rife with decontextualized claims and at times outright falsehoods — is precisely the point, according to the seven women.

“Dehumanizing and violent rhetoric is deeply dangerous — for our communities from El Paso to Pittsburgh to Buffalo, and for our democracy,” said Schubiner, referring to the three bigotry-driven mass murders that collectively claimed 54 lives.

“Trump has led the normalization of bigotry and violence in our politics, but each and every one of our leaders has the responsibility to push back vocally. Trump’s words are a threat to immigrant communities, and they are a threat to the electoral process. We must take him at his word, and take action so that his vision does not become reality.”

The group of advocates holds significant sway in Latino communities, including some that could prove decisive in November.

“Our members, many of whom are immigrants, work across all sectors of the economy. They’re the essential janitors who clean the buildings we work in, the doctors and nurses who take care of us when we’re sick, and the home care workers who help our aging loved ones and those with disabilities,” said Sáenz, whose SEIU is a key component of voter mobilization efforts in swing states like Nevada.

“Come November, hard working Americans — Black, brown, white, immigrant — will take their demands for good union jobs from the strike lines to the ballot box in 2024 and will do everything in our power to keep Trump and MAGA Republicans from having the last word on who they consider to be ‘people’. We will use our anger and frustration to make real change and elect leaders who will keep all families safe.”

Trump’s enemies are as fired up by his immigration rhetoric as his most ardent supporters.

Democratic political strategists are looking to magnify the dangers behind Trump’s message — though perhaps not the message itself — to energize voters ahead of an election between two unpopular candidates.

“A second term would embolden the MAGA right to continue threatening immigrants and migrants even more than what we experienced in his first term,” said Praeli.

“The only way we can stop the fear-mongering is by turning out to vote and choosing the direction we want our country to take. A multiracial democracy is possible — and it’s on us to build it.”

According to Sollod, whose group is the country’s largest immigrant-led youth organization, multiracial democracy would be at risk in a second Trump presidency.

“We cannot afford to lose this country and ourselves to this white nationalist playbook, nor can we normalize the racist discrimination, inhumane surveillance, racial profiling, harassment, and detention that our loved ones are experiencing in places like Texas and Florida,” said Sollod.

“We call on all people and elected officials across the country to reject these dangerous, white supremacist positions that pose an existential threat to the lives of immigrants and Black and brown people in this country.”

And Kumar, whose organization is a power player in Latino politics, pointed to Trump’s immigration rhetoric as a liability before a broader electorate.

“Americans are clear on his threat. That’s why we collectively beat him at the ballot box. We rejected his fear-mongering, rage, and chaos. We will do it again. The twice-impeached, four-times indicted former president has no future in our multicultural America,” said Kumar.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.