Twitter users reacted strongly to President Donald Trump’s use of the word “infest” to describe illegal immigration.
Responding to criticism of a policy that has led to more than 2,000 children being separated from their parents at the border, Trump tweeted that Democrats were to blame.
“They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our country, like MS-13,” he wrote, referencing a violent criminal gang based in Central America.
Critics of Trump’s language argued that it was dehumanizing to use a term traditionally used for pests.
“Infest,” “animals,” “changes their culture.” A parade of dehumanizing and nativist language. https://t.co/rd7Khmue5R
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) June 19, 2018
"infest" like rats or cockroaches https://t.co/2diClsQTzG
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 19, 2018
Also – insects infest. This public language about immigrants from a US president after, say, 1970, is remarkable. https://t.co/xRhAUjqo5P
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 19, 2018
“Infest.” Trump’s dehumanizing language continues—as it always does—by lumping nonviolent illegal immigrants in with violent gangs. https://t.co/qqfAS7pJAp
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) June 19, 2018
Using words like"pour into" and "infest' are dehumanizing tactics repeatedly used in history to smear immigrants & refugees, all in attempts to rob them of their humanity. Language matters. https://t.co/o7Llocw0PG
— Rowaida Abdelaziz (@Rowaida_Abdel) June 19, 2018
Other Twitter users went even further, comparing it to language used during genocides.
The word "infest" has a dark past. pic.twitter.com/x8LOU8aQSU
— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) June 19, 2018
Trump’s statement that immigrants will “infest our Country” probably sounds better in the original German. https://t.co/k7FBgBkCHQ
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) June 19, 2018
Just a complete fabrication.
And notice that he continues to use words for animals and rodents like “infest” to describe people.
This word was often used in Rwanda during genocide, comparing people to roaches. https://t.co/4RT9BVXdm6
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 19, 2018
the use of the word "infest" reminds me of how Tutsis were called cockroaches in Rwanda https://t.co/eYmlnBSSoV
— Danny Gold (@DGisSERIOUS) June 19, 2018
illegal immigrants "infest our Country"
if this isn't a direct quote from Mein Kampf, it's pretty close. https://t.co/intrGkbq1E
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) June 19, 2018
"Infest" is language used in Nazi propaganda to describe the "infestation" of Jews in Germany, who were compared to rats. Here's the President of the United States saying illegal immigrants "infest" our country. Keep telling me those Nazi comparisons are unfair. https://t.co/Xe5JghagcA
— Rob Sheridan (@rob_sheridan) June 19, 2018
The controversy happened about a month after Trump used the word “animals” while criticizing California’s immigration approach. After facing public scrutiny for his language, Trump tweeted that he was referring specifically to MS-13 gang members, “a big difference.”
Yeah, he was taken out of context when he called immigrants “animals.” Excellent take there. https://t.co/QsaeFGERMS
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) June 19, 2018