President Donald Trump's response to anonymous reports is leaving no doubt that shooting immigrants in the leg to keep them out of this country is fair game, and that's dangerous.
On Wednesday, Trump denied on Twitter that he wanted a "moat stuffed with alligators and snakes, with an electrified fence and sharp spikes on top."
"I may be tough on Border Security, but not that tough," he tweeted, attacking The New York Times report.
But he didn't rebuff other New York Times anonymous reports that he suggested shooting immigrants in the leg to slow them down in his zealous efforts to seal the southern border to all foreigners.
Now the press is trying to sell the fact that I wanted a Moat stuffed with alligators and snakes, with an electrified fence and sharp spikes on top, at our Southern Border. I may be tough on Border Security, but not that tough. The press has gone Crazy. Fake News!
- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2019
El Paso is proof: Violent words matter
The Times detailed a March meeting where Trump suggested firing at immigrants and called for a "water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators" and a "wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh."
Does that sound Trumpian? Of course it does, and everyone knows it. From the get-go, Trump has had no qualms in dishing out violent imagery, telling the world in 2016 that he could even shoot somebody and not lose votes.
And now we know he would try to do just that. Not himself, of course, and the target isn't a man in New York's Fifth Avenue, as he had voiced on the campaign trail.
Why deterrence won't work: Asylum seekers I meet flee something even worse than Trump's unethical immigration agenda
The mere notion of shooting foreigners to keep them from reaching the U.S. border is appalling, irresponsible and dangerous.
On Aug. 3, Patrick Crusius, a 21-year old white man, opened fire in a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 and injuring more than two dozen others.
In his 2,300-word manifesto, Crusius talked about the "Hispanic invasion of Texas." Simply put, he drove hundreds of miles from his home outside Dallas to hunt down Hispanics. Thirteen of the victims were U.S. citizens, eight were Mexican citizens and one was a German national.
Why would anyone want to shoot foreigners?
Trump isn't responsible for that fateful August day in El Paso. But it is clear his anti-Mexican rhetoric is part of this moment. Why would anyone be OK with this?
Follow the law until you change it: Congress must be unafraid to follow the immigration laws we wrote
And why would anyone be OK with the notion of shooting immigrants in the leg? Trump aides reportedly kept him from all this craziness, resorting instead to strong-arm Mexico into military intervention within its territory to curb the flow of Central American asylum seekers from reaching U.S. soil.
America seems to be shrugging off Trump's violent mindset against immigrants as nothing more than tantrums. But that's a mistake and the massacre in El Paso proves it.
I get that the country is consumed with Trump's impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.
But Trump needs to be called out. The country needs to know that shooting foreigners - in the leg or anywhere else - is illegal and immoral.
Elvia Díaz is an editorial columnist for The Republic and azcentral, where this column originally appeared. Follow her on Twitter @elviadiaz1.
You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Donald Trump needs to know that shooting migrants' legs is illegal