As reports indicate the White House is gearing up to launch a campaign to convince the public that immigrants are "bad for American security," President Donald Trump ramped up his xenophobic rhetoric on Friday in a speech to FBI academy graduates, saying—to laughter and applause—that countries "give us their worst people" and calling for a harsh crackdown.
Falsely and disjointedly describing the green card lottery system, Trump claimed, "they put them in a bin, but in his hand when he's pickin' 'em is really the worst of the worst."
Trump goes after the visa lottery system: "They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin." pic.twitter.com/tbEJMrdWkL— Axios (@axios) December 15, 2017
As Vox's Dara Lind notes, "people selected in the visa lottery go through exactly as much screening as any other would-be immigrant to the United States, and the governments of their countries are not deliberately 'picking' them to immigrate."
Disregarding this fact, Trump plowed ahead, implying that immigrants are responsible for violent crime—despite abundant evidence showing immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans—and sprinkling in effusive praise for law enforcement officers, who the president repeatedly insisted are "great people."
Trump soon moved on to another theme his administration has deployed time and time again.
"What the hell is going on in Chicago? What the hell is happening there," Trump said. The audience laughed and applauded.
During the president's speech, The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill slammed "strongman" Trump's praise for officers, as well their effusive praise for him.
American strongman tells feared security service he “has their backs 100%.”— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) December 15, 2017
The heroic FBI agents protecting us from dangerous Trump applaud wildly at dear leader’s call for more death penalty.— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) December 15, 2017
Other critics also condemned Trump's unequivocally kind words for law enforcement, highlighting widespread police killings, brutality, and abuses of power.
"Here's something that's going on in Chicago," wrote The Daily Beast's Spencer Ackerman, linking to a Guardian investigation that found police disappeared had "more than 7,000 people at an off-the-books interrogation warehouse in Chicago" from 2004 to 2015.