Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke July 25, 2019

Facebook post on immigration misuses an old Trump 'animals' quote

Amid comparisons of migrant detention centers and concentration camps, some social media users are trying to connect President Donald Trump to Nazis.

Using photos of Trump and Adolf Hitler, one Facebook post published on July 22 attributes similar quotes to each man. "Jews aren’t people, they’re rats," the post says Hitler said. It claims Trump, meanwhile, said, "Immigrants aren’t people, they’re animals." 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) So were two other posts published on Facebook on July 22. 

One claims Hitler said, "Jews are not people; they are animals," while Trump said, "Undocumented immigrants are not people; they are animals." 

Another features Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister under Hitler in Nazi Germany.

"These are not humans, but animals," the post says Goebbels said about those quarantined a Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland. The post then attributes to Trump this statement allegedly said about asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2019: "These aren’t people. These are animals."

What did Trump actually say? He called gang members "animals," not all immigrants. 

Here’s what actually happened back in May 2018. 

California officials had gathered at the White House for a roundtable on immigration policy Margaret Mims, the sheriff of Fresno County in California, mentioned MS-13 gang members, who are known for committing brutal crimes. California laws made it difficult for her to share information with federal authorities about dangerous criminals like MS-13 gang members, she said.

Featured Fact-check

Trump said: "We have a lot of people coming into our country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy." 

Trump drew fire for the comment, including from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who tweeted: "Immigrants are not ‘animals.’ The president’s statement was deeply offensive and racist. Immigrants are our family and friends and they make significant contributions to our country." 

But others pointed out that Trump was referencing MS-13 gang members; he wasn’t calling all immigrants "animals." The White House later issued a press release titled, "What you need to know about the violent animals of MS-13" that described members of the gang as "animals" 10 times. 

Trump also told a reporter who asked him about the remark that he was referring to "the MS-13 gangs that are coming in," according to the New York Times.

When Trump’s comment was more recently used in a misleading tweet alleging Trump called asylum seekers "animals" — and shared by Democratic presidential candidates and liberal pundits — we rated the claim False

Our ruling

The Facebook post said that Trump said, "Immigrants aren’t people, they’re animals." Word-for-word, that’s wrong. During a roundtable on immigration policy, Trump said: "These aren’t people. These are animals."

But context matters. Trump was responding to a sheriff who said California laws made it difficult for her to share information with federal authorities about dangerous criminals like MS-13 gang members. Trump also later said that he was referring to gang members. 

Trump was criticized for his word-choice, and some interpreted his remarks as a slur directed at all undocumented immigrants. But this Facebook post overreaches. We rate it False.

Clarification: We updated this post on Aug. 9, 2019 to more accurately describe the origin of Nazi ghettos in Poland.


Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

Facebook post on immigration misuses an old Trump 'animals' quote

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up