WASHINGTON, D.C. — In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into the law the first of the Homestead Acts. In doing so, Lincoln established a system by which Americans could put in a claim for 16 acres of land somewhere on the western frontier. The Homestead Acts were meant to encourage westward expansion and eventually enabled over 15,000 new homes to be established. Even freed slaves were eligible for the program.
Today, President Donald Trump blamed the Homestead Act in part for what he called “bigly numbers of illegal Mexicans” pouring over the southern border. Speaking in the Oval Office to reporters from Fox News, Sinclair Media, Breitbart, and InfoWars — outlets Trump calls “super rill news” — Trump said that he believes the allure of the “free stuff” promised by the Homestead Act is drawing people up from Mexico into the U.S.
“First of all, that act was signed by Abraham Lincoln, who is not my favorite Civil War era president,” Trump said. “Second of all, it’s just like DACA. It’s encouraging people, like bigly numbers of illegal Mexicans, to come flooding over our border. Third of all, if it was open to freed urbans, then of course it would make other browns come in. BAD!”
Trump was referring to a series of tweets he sent over the weekend. In one, Trump blamed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program started by former President Obama. DACA is not citizenship, however it does provide for delayed deportation of people brought here before 2007 as minors. DACA was rescinded by Trump last year, and he has repeatedly used it as a rhetorical cudgel to bludgeon Democrats with. However, it’s unclear whether President Trump understands that the program wouldn’t cover anyone who arrived after 2007, no matter if they were children or not.
Trump’s tweet, is below:
These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2018
Alaska was the last state to participate in the homesteading of Americans, and ended the program in 1986, more than 30 years ago. Before that, most states had ended their homestead programs by 1976. However, Trump says that it’s “fake news” that undocumented people wouldn’t come to the U.S. illegally to take advantage of it.
President Trump told the reporters in the Oval Office as he put his feet up on the Resolute Desk and cracked open a Diet Coke that the “evidence is yooge” that the Homestead Act.
“What I say doesn’t have to make sense, except to a portion of the country,” Trump explained. “Also, these illegal Mexicans prolly have no idea that the Homestead Act doesn’t apply anymore and are coming anyway. Because they don’t speak American, they speak Mexican! If they spoke American, they’d know, but they don’t, so…they don’t. Make sense? Of course it does!”
The White House did not comment on this story.