The national televised address by President Donald Trump was widely denounced on Tuesday night after his performance from the Oval Office—in which he used well-worn racist tactics to dehumanize immigrants and refugees by painting them as violent criminals, but said nothing new or convincing about the need to shutdown the federal government in order to obtain funds to build his “ridiculous” border wall.
Among the progressive organizations responding, People for the America Way (PFAW) characterized the address as nothing more than a “bigoted, childish con job” by the president.
The White House said PFAW president Michael Keegan, “has repeatedly humiliated itself this week by trying to manufacture bogus statistics about immigration and national security—an attempt so brazen that even FOX News hosts refused to go along with it. None of the president’s lies have been able to generate meaningful public support for his bigoted demands, with only 25 percent agreeing with his reckless, bigoted efforts to build a wall.”
Nothing the president said in Tuesday night’s address, added Keegan, “will put food on the table or pay the rent for the eight hundred thousand Americans and their families about to miss their federal paychecks. Nothing he said will help Americans who count on the government to do its job. Trump created this mess and has been enabled by the GOP Senate every step of the way. Enough. Trump must drop his ignorant and ridiculous demands for a border wall and get our federal workers back to work—with pay.”
Watch the address:
While Trump vilified those who come to the United States via the southern border, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, argued in the wake of the address that immigrants and refugees attempting to flee violence or find a better life are not the problem.
“Trump is the real national crisis,” Neumann-Ortiz said. “He is a racist and an elitist who has no regard for families and children at the border seeking refuge from violence and death, or for the millions of working-class families impacted by his shutdown. The vast majority of people do not want this racist and wasteful wall. Trump is denying people their right to seek asylum under international and US law. Now he is holding hostage federal employees and millions of taxpayers, farmers, and families, all to promote his hateful agenda.”
Mostly, Trump was derided for simply lying the same lies he’s repeatedly lied over recent days, weeks, and months—but calling it a national emergency so he could deliver a primetime address to deliver them directly to tens of millions of households:
President Trump and Secretary Nielsen have lied about border conditions and continued to push narratives that are proven false.
Their denial of the humanity and rights of immigrants is driving this administration’s policy agenda — and it’s killing people.
— ACLU (@ACLU) January 9, 2019
Public Citizen was especially succinct:
Our response to the #TrumpAddress: LIAR.
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) January 9, 2019
Joining Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also weighed in. “The President has decided to hold the paychecks of everyday Americans hostage so he can fulfill a campaign fantasy that the vast majority of Americans disapprove of,” she said, in part. Watch:
WATCH: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivers impassioned response to President Trump’s address: “The president should be really defending why we are funding [ICE] at all … right now, what we are seeing, is death.” pic.twitter.com/4Al4GLWUvB
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 9, 2019
“Those women and children trying to come here with nothing but the shirts on their back to create an opportunity and provide for this nation,” added Ocasio-Cortez, “are acting more in an American tradition than this president is right now.”
Sayu Bhojwani, president and founder of New American Leaders, a non-partisan group which advocates for immigrants and their families, also denounced the president for his continued lies and hatred directed at asylum seekers and the migrant community.
“Families who have lost everything and are seeking safety for their children are not a threat,” Bhojwani said in a statement. “LGBTQ people fleeing violence and persecution are not a threat. Survivors of domestic violence are not a threat. Trump’s comments tonight are a desperate political move that flies in the face of our most basic American values. He is playing political games with the actual lives of asylees.”
Since the very beginning of his presidential run, Bhojwani continued, Trump “has exaggerated statistics and anecdotes to create a xenophobic bogeyman out of American immigrants. Since his taking office, at least two dozen detained immigrants have died in US custody. The hundreds of people detained in squalid conditions at our southern border—including young children—are not killers and terrorists. They are families who have traveled thousands of miles fleeing poverty and violence to seek asylum in the United States. As a global leader, we must do better, and so must our government, especially our president.”