President Trump derided a federal diversity-training program, saying that immigrants do not assimilate well enough in some of the nation’s most immigrant-rich cities.
“Why do we want the people that are in our cities, in New York City and many of the other great cities in this country, where you have unbelievable crime, where you have massive immigration — we don’t want the people that are coming in — they don’t fit in,” he said.
In the short term, Mr. Trump’s comments, made on Friday at a White House meeting with mayors and police chiefs, sparked a rebuttable assumption from a crowd that has often felt threatened and targeted.
Did Mr. Trump realize that the police might have been fighting a demographic fight on their own? Even worse, had he not been told, was the panic, the fear, the unfounded accusations that would soon spread across social media.
On Twitter, for example, one African-American user warned, “At least one police agency should have black partners. The type of profiling and profiling is inappropriate.”
…One black user advised that “the cops should employ Blacks with good reputations. Black men are usually good at looking up to cops as mentors and peers.”
The assumption spread beyond social media and into the city. U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, who represents Indianapolis, tweeted that the only way to end “illegal immigration, gang violence, violence in our schools & horrendous crime” is “for President Trump to reverse this racist & harmful statement that encourages hate & discrimination.”
Councilman Elgin Parker, who represents Houston, tweeted, “Wake up Mr. President. When dem means nazis we should talk 2 black men,” in reference to the president’s derogatory term for those sympathetic to white supremacists who protested in Charlottesville, Va., in August. Mr. Parker has since deleted the tweet.
In a statement, Mr. Parker told The Associated Press that “it was unfortunate that it became clear that my concern for the police and crime statistics did not sit well with the president.”
In the best of times, New York City — a predominantly diverse city and the country’s leading transit hub — is the ultimate test case of racial discord. The origins of the city’s problems with the drugs trade and homicides date back decades. Now there are black and Latino gangs who terrorize neighborhoods, and there is a pronounced spike in gang-related violence around this year’s mayoral election.
Still, the suggestion that immigrants from Haiti and other poor, violence-ridden countries are fundamentally different from native-born Americans has to qualify as startling bigotry, even if the proof Mr. Trump provided was not conclusive.
When immigrants are asked what they think of New York City, the most common answer, according to a New York Times poll earlier this year, is “generally positive.” When asked if that sentiment was expressed with a “twist,” the results were mixed: 47 percent agreed, and 49 percent disagreed.
So what lies at the root of negative perceptions of New York, and America more broadly? For many, a certain resentment of money. As The Times has reported, an analysis of Census data by immigration historian Carolyn Towns did not find a significant correlation between a city’s perception of immigration and actual immigration. The figure that Mr. Trump cited was very close to the national average.
But few areas are as diverse as New York, and an Asian-American group has been particularly vocal about its fears and concerns. Adan Cabrera, 31, a public servant who entered the country illegally at the age of 16, described how he “self-deported” after learning that Mr. Trump had released a list of “total and complete shutdowns” of immigrants from countries such as Haiti, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Sudan and Syria.