(UPI) — Former President Barack Obama called the Trump administration’s rhetoric about immigration a “political stunt” Friday while stumping for Democratic candidates in Florida.
The 44th president of the United States spoke at a rally for gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Sen. Bill Nelson, who is seeking re-election, at Miami’s Ice Palace Film Studio.
Obama criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to deploy 5,200 troops to the Southwest border in advance of a group of thousands of Central American migrants walking north through Mexico. On Thursday, Trump announced plans to limit who can seek asylum at the border.
“Now they’re telling you in 2018 that the existential threat to America is a bunch of poor refugees 1,000 miles away. They’re even taking our great troops away from their families for a political stunt,” Obama said.
He also criticized Trump’s desire to end birthright citizenship, which grants citizenship to babies born in the United States, even if their parents aren’t citizens. He accused the administration of fear-mongering and distorting the truth to push its agenda on immigration.
“When words stop meaning anything, when truth doesn’t matter, when people can just lie with abandon, democracy can’t work,” Obama said. “That’s what’s happening at the highest levels. And the only check on that behavior is you. The only check on that behavior is you and your vote.”
Obama urged voters to support Nelson and Gillum, who, if elected, would become Florida’s first black governor.
“Let’s make history happen,” the former president said.
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