Last week, President Donald Trump mocked asylum seekers by claiming they look like UFC fighters.
During a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Trump claimed that US asylum laws do not stop dangerous people from crossing the border into the United States.
”The asylum program is a scam,” Trump said. “Some of the roughest people you have ever seen. People that look like they should be fighting for the UFC.”
Trump’s brutish comments came amid a conflict in American politics over the increase of Asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border. After failing to strike a deal with Democrats that would give him $5 billion to build the wall, Trump declared a national emergency in order to bypass Congress and fund his campaign promise. In return, the House filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s national emergency.
Despite migrants having a legal right to seek asylum in the US, the Trump administration has made a concerted effort to reduce the number of people who are free to move around the US while their cases are pending. The administration has reportedly turned back some Central American asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed. They have attempted to take less migrants at ports of entry, reduce asylum eligibility, and separate families, including parents from their children.
Trump’s comments regarding the UFC are interesting given the President’s longstanding relationship with the MMA organization. Trump hosted two consecutive UFC events (UFC 31 & 32) at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City during a time when the promotion still had a tarnished reputation. UFC President Dana White endorsed Trump during a speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, and the promotion did a propaganda documentary on Trump that was little more than blatant hagiography.
Trump continued his onslaught against Central American migrants during his speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition by claiming that southern-border asylum seekers are using fraudulent methods to enter the country.
“They read a little page given by lawyers that are all over the place — you know lawyers, they tell them what to say. You look at this guy, you say, wow, ‘that’s a tough cookie.’
”I am very fearful for my life. I am very worried that I will be accosted if I’m sent back home,” Trump added, imitating a migrant ready off a script.
”No, no. He’ll do the accosting.”