April 25, 2024

Donald Trump started off his campaign stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Tuesday with a bang, immediately launching into a vitriolic tirade about the alleged numbers of “sick” undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

“People were sick, we don’t want them coming into our country with contagious diseases and they have it,” Trump said, despite the fact that he actively ignored the onset of the global pandemic, lied to the U.S. public about ways to treat Covid-19, and thwarted efforts to develop a vaccine. “All of a sudden you see these contagious diseases spreading and everyone is saying, ‘I wonder where they came from.’ I can tell you where they came from.”

Even though he was arguably as far away as he could get from the Mexico border while staying within the bounds of the contiguous United States, the GOP presidential nominee used the event to go after Joe Biden’s border policies, which Trump’s campaign referred to as “Biden’s Border Bloodbath.”

Over the last few months, Trump’s campaign has 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 approving of his approach, according to The Washington Post.

“Under Crooked Joe Biden, EVERY state is now a border state. EVERY town is now a Border Town—because Joe Biden has brought the carnage, chaos, and killing from all over world, and dumped it straight into our own backyards,” Trump spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said in a statement ahead of Trump’s speech.

Trump is also scheduled to make a speech in Wisconsin on Tuesday night, before the state holds its presidential primary alongside Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. There will be 455 delegates up for grabs in the Democratic primary, and 195 delegates available on the Republican side.