April 23, 2024

Donald Trump hosted back-to-back rallies in two states on Tuesday, using his time to attack President Joe Biden’s immigration policies and make some extreme promises in regard to his own agenda for the U.S.-Mexico border. That included claiming he’d deport U.S. citizens if undocumented migrants were found “invading” their homes.

“If your constitutional rights have been violated, we will defend you. If you have illegal aliens invading your home, we will deport you,” Trump said during an event in Wisconsin, his second stop of the night.

The claim, which is alarmingly similar to the policies of another far-right leader who punished civilians for hiding Jews in their homes, could be a direct attack on a controversial program announced last month by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration. Whitmer’s new policy offers $500 subsidies for households that volunteered to shelter refugees.

Or, if the phrasing was just another verbal gaffe, it would add to a mountain of evidence that Trump is losing his grip. Over the last several months, Trump has claimed that there were “millions of people” arriving from “places unknown” speaking no language and that he would stop banks from “debanking” Americans; he has mixed up former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and described his plan for America’s missile defense system by going, “Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.… Boom. OK. Missile launch. Woosh. Boom.”

But, after much leg work, Trump’s campaign has also successfully transformed immigration into a key issue in the upcoming election, with more than a quarter of Americans—28 percent—listing it as their top concern, according to a March Gallup poll. Behind the scenes, the former president has strong-armed Republican lawmakers into refusing bipartisan border deals to avoid giving Biden a win on the issue.

Trump has also stoked the flames of a standoff between Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the federal government over lengths of concertina wire erected by the state that have prevented federal border agents from doing their job along the Rio Grande section of the U.S.-Mexico border.

And, by now, it seems to have helped him—or at least taken a toll on his opponent. Polls suggest that immigration, in light of rising border crossings, is Biden’s worst policy issue, with seven out of 10 Americans disapproving of his approach, according to The Washington Post.