In a speech at the Washington DC Faith & Freedom Coalition conference on Saturday, former President Donald Trump proposed creating a migrant mixed-martial arts league—a remark that was likely a joke but has been taken seriously by his media critics.

An X user posted a clip of the speech, indicating that he interpreted the suggestion as a joke: “Funniest president of all time.”

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In the speech, Trump said he spoke to UFC CEO Dana White: “I said, ‘Dana I have an idea. Why don’t you set up a migrant league of fighters and have your regular league fighters, and then you have the champion of your league — these are the greatest fighters in the world — fight the champion of the migrants.’”

In the video, the crowd can be heard laughing at the proposal. While some interpreted the idea as a joke, others interpreted it seriously. Media outlets like Politico claim Trump has “a longstanding series of remarks demonizing immigrants entering the country illegally.”

Politico’s statement implies that Trump demonizes all illegal immigrants, but in the specific cases they cite, Trump was speaking in the context of violent gangs, and those coming from prisons and mental institutions.

On May 11, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an operation that resulted in 1,378 arrests across the US. The press release details that “The operation targeted gang members and associates involved in transnational criminal activity, including drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and racketeering.”

According to the US Customs and Border Protection Website, in their fiscal year for 2024, there have been 13,130 arrests of individuals that have criminal convictions. These are individuals that have been convicted of one or more crimes before entering the US.

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