Multiple women’s media outlets are condemning President Donald Trump’s July 25 speech, in which he linked gangs such as MS-13 to violence against women, saying he is exploiting the deaths of young women at the hands of immigrants, calling his remarks “xenophobic,” and explaining that his rhetoric is “effectively stereotyping all undocumented immigrants as gang members.” Trump has previously used MS-13 violence to justify anti-immigrant policies, but experts say that such policies “could actually make the gang stronger.”
At a rally in Ohio, Trump claimed that undocumented immigrants “slice … and dice” young girls
Trump: “Some of these animals” will “take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others and they slice them and dice them with a knife.” During a July 25 rally in Youngstown, OH, President Donald Trump painted a gruesome picture of immigrant crime saying, “Some of these animals. … take a young, beautiful girl … and they slice them and dice them with a knife.” Trump lauded the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s counter-crime operations targeting gangs, particularly MS-13. The largest raid since Trump took office ended with 1,378 people arrested, of which “1,095 were confirmed to be gang members or affiliates of a gang, ICE said, including mostly Bloods, followed by Sureños, MS-13 and the Crips,” according to CNN. The network also reported that “of the arrests, 933 were US citizens and 445 were foreign nationals, with 384 in the country illegally.” [Time, 7/26/17; CNN.com, 5/12/17]
Trump has previously used MS-13 violence to justify his anti-immigrant policies
The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S. We are removing them fast!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2017
The Democrats don't want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2017
Women’s media outlets respond with disgust at Trump’s casting of undocumented immigrants as violent criminals
The Mary Sue: “Using the crimes of a select few to justify discrimination and call an entire group of people animals and gang members is nothing short of racist.” Women’s media hub The Mary Sue called Trump’s exploitation of violence against women to criminalize immigrants “textbook xenophobic fear-mongering” and explained that “using the crimes of a select few to justify discrimination and call an entire group of people animals and gang members is nothing short of racist.” The Mary Sue also noted the “misogynistic undercurrent to this rhetoric,” writing that this type of discourse is “often based on the notion that the nation’s ‘women’ belong to the men and any harm to them is a violation of male honor.” From the July 26 article:
Trump is likely referring to the vicious murder of Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas who were victims of the MS-13 gang. While an absolute tragedy, using their deaths to justify his xenophobic and racist hate is nothing short of abhorrent. Using the crimes of a select few to justify discrimination and call an entire group of people animals and gang members is nothing short of racist.
Trump’s rhetoric here is textbook xenophobic fear-mongering. Dehumanizing undocumented immigrants as “animals” has it’s roots in painting people of color as more savage, less evolved, and aggressively prone to violence. It evokes a traditional of scientific racism and state violence that defended itself by establishing the white population as civilizers and protectors.
The language of protecting women from black and brown bodies is also nothing new. In fact, spreading the idea that the vulnerable female body must be protected from the intruder is straight out of the white supremacist propaganda book. There’s a huge misogynistic undercurrent to this rhetoric as well, as it’s often based on the notion that the nation’s “women” belong to the men and any harm to them is a violation of male honor. Considering the way we’ve seen his team attack reproductive rights and protections for survivors of assault, it seems evident that he’s more interested in using these women are tools for his agenda rather that really protecting American women. [The Mary Sue, 7/26/17]
Jezebel: Trump’s comments “effectively stereotyp[ed] all undocumented immigrants as gang members.” Jezebel’s Prachi Gupta wrote a blistering article about Trump’s speech, specifically noting his characterization of “undocumented immigrants as psychopathic serial killers.” Gupta, pointing to his racism and xenophobia, also criticized media outlets for having once called Trump “presidential.” [Jezebel, 7/26/17]
Bustle called out Trump’s fearmongering “tale,” referring to his MS-13 reference as a “horror story.” Bustle called Trump's speech a “horror story” and likened it to his candidacy announcement in 2015, in which he referred to Mexican immigrants as drug traffickers, criminals, and “rapists.” The article debunked many of Trump’s false claims about immigration and public safety and noted that hundreds of law enforcement officials in “364 counties and 39 cities” oppose his focus on immigrants when it comes to counter-crime measures. [Bustle, 7/27/17]
Experts have said gang eradication relies on integrating immigrants and local enforcement -- not immigration policy
WTOP: Law enforcement officials “describe the ideal anti-gang method as … education, intervention/prevention and enforcement.” WTOP, Washington, D.C.’s local news station, published a piece that outlined law enforcement’s prescription for battling MS-13 as “a three-pronged approach: education, intervention/prevention and enforcement.” Capt. Paul Cleveland of Fairfax County, VA, who is a member of Virginia police’s anti-gang unit, told WTOP that offering immigrant kids after-school activities and keeping them away from gangs is just as important as finding and detaining gang members. [WTOP.com, 6/19/17]
CNN: “Experts say using MS-13 to justify cracking down on undocumented immigrants could actually make the gang stronger.” Experts cited in an April 29 CNN report questioned the administration’s focus on immigration policies as a way to eradicate MS-13, saying that the DOJ might be “undermining its cause by equating MS-13 to undocumented immigrants.” The article explained that MS-13’s “ranks were continuously strengthened by deportees from the US returning home”:
But while Liquorie appreciated the federal government wanting to help local law enforcement fight the gang, he questioned whether DOJ was actually undermining its cause by equating MS-13 to undocumented immigrants.
But the truth about the gang, the first street gang to be labeled a “transnational criminal organization” by the US government, is more complicated -- and experts say using MS-13 to justify cracking down on undocumented immigrants could actually make the gang stronger.
While it's unknown how much of the Central American strength of MS-13 was homegrown, a Congressional Research Service analysis of MS-13 found that its ranks were continuously strengthened by deportees from the US returning home, even as members also migrated to the US. [CNN.com, 4/29/17]
Some undocumented immigrants with information about MS-13 did not report it to police out of “fear of deportation.” Multiple people familiar with MS-13 as well as two MS-13 members themselves told CNN that “they think Trump's crackdown on immigrants is actually making MS-13 stronger because witnesses are more reluctant to come forward for fear of being deported.” [CNN, 7/28/17]