John Oliver makes a brutal closing argument about Trump and immigration for the midterms

John Oliver makes immigration his closing argument too
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Last Week Tonight)

President Trump, to the chagrin of a handful of House Republicans, has made immigration his closing salvo for the midterms, stoking terror and sending up to 15,000 troops to counter a slow-moving caravan of Central American migrants. On Sunday's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver accepted Trump's challenge to make Tuesday's election about Trump and immigration — but not on "hypotheticals," like birthright citizenship or U.S. troop deployments. He focused on family separation.

After Trump ended that policy following a national uproar, "the story kind of faded from the headlines," Oliver said. But new government reports show that while the policy "seemed malicious and chaotic at the time, at every step, it was even worse than you might assume."

The enactment of the policy was unpardonably sloppy, the motives baldly racist, and the whole thing tragically unnecessary, Oliver said. "Contrary to what you might think, most of the parents who were separated from their kids were charged, pled guilty, and served their sentence, all fairly quickly." And the vast majority of asylum seekers show up for their court hearings. Trump and his allies still argue that family separation was a necessary evil, but "we don't have to do any of it," he said. "There is not a war, and the only reason people keep talking like there is one is to give themselves permission to make the choices they want to be forced to make." He showed a real-life example of how family separation traumatized one mother and son. "Yeah, we did that — and not because we had to, but because we chose to," Oliver said. "And horrifically, we may actually be about to do it again."

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So sure, let's make Tuesday about Trump and immigration, Oliver said. "Because family separation is perhaps the most emblematic moment of his presidency so far: It was cruel, sloppy, needless, racist, and ultimately exactly what we should have expected." There is NSFW language and heartbreak. Watch below. Peter Weber

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