US President Donald Trump has accused immigration from Central American entering the United States from the Mexico border of perpetrating crimes and stirring up violence and denounced his country’s asylum program as a “scam”.

Members of a migrant caravan walk into the interior of Mexico after crossing the Guatemalan border on October 21, 2018, near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. Photo from Vox

In Las Vegas on Saturday, speaking at an event, Trump underscored the US immigration policy and derided asylum seekers by mockingly likening them to professional mixed martial artists.

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“The asylum program is a scam,” Trump said during his speech. Referring to immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, mainly, he said “Some of the roughest people you’ve ever seen. People that look like they should be fighting for the UFC.” The Ultimate Fighting Championship is a company that promotes martial arts combat matches.

Trump went on to claim that asylum seekers are coached on what to say in order to be allowed entry into the United States.

“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’,” Trump said.

President Trump made the comments less than a week after back peddling on the threat to close the Mexico border and cut all financial aid to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, the three Central American countries that have been the major sources of the so-called “migrant caravans” since last October.

Trump has called the entry of the caravans an “invasion” by “thugs” and “criminals” and warned them to turn back or his administration would separate families at the border with Mexico, a policy condemned by Amnesty International and other rights groups as “disgraceful, mean-spirited and unlawful.”

Most of the migrants say they are fleeing the corruption of their US-backed governments as well as persecution, violence, and poverty in their home countries.


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