Late Night Tackles Trump and Immigration
June 26, 2019

Customs and Border Protection chief John Sanders is stepping down amid reports of deplorable conditions for detained child migrants, Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "You know what they say: When the going gets tough, the tough go, 'Good luck with that, sucks to be you.'" He imagined Sanders trying to explain "violating the Geneva Conventions" during his next job interview, unsuccessfully: "I'm sorry, but you're just not Chuck E. Cheese material — and may I remind you, we terrify children with a giant animatronic rat."

President Trump threw Sanders under the bus then "made mouth sounds with the hole about his 'concern' for children," Colbert said. "But Trump is wrong and he knows it. This crisis is not some mistake caused by a sudden rush to the border. People who work down there say it's the result of a failed gamble on the part of the Trump administration that a succession of ever-harder border policies would deter the flood of migrants coming from Central America. And it's not Trump's only failed gamble — his original idea for the border was the Trump Taj Matrocity and Child Hotel."

Colbert said what makes the United States great "is what we believe in — all men are created equal; life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness" — but "the problem with high ideals" is that "you actually have to live up to them, and with these kids on the border, we're not just failing to live up to our own standards," but also the standards of Somali pirates and the Taliban.

Trump's "courageous defense of his policies" is the lie that they are actually Barack Obama's policies, Colbert said. "Mr. President, you're not fooling anybody. We all remember that you ran on a racist, anti-immigration platform, and you're still running on it today. At this point, the only family separation America wants to see is yours from the White House." Watch below. Peter Weber

June 12, 2019

President Trump is threatening tariffs on $300 billion more of Chinese goods if Chinese President Xi Jinping doesn't meet with him at an upcoming G-20 summit. The Daily Show's Trevor Noah found that threat sad, but on Tuesday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert laughed it off as "a pretty aggressive invitation. It's like sending out an evite that says 'Come to Rick's barbecue if you ever want to see your family again.'"

Trump also keeps insisting he reached a secret deal with Mexico. "Yesterday, Mexico's foreign minister said that no secret immigration deal existed between his country and the United States," Colbert said. "So today, Trump answered his doubters in a way that I think deserves that we just take a moment ... to appreciate what a bizarre person is leading our country." He asked viewers to imagine any other president holding up a folded sheet of paper they claim is a secret deal they won't let anyone else read.

But it turns out, "you can actually read what it says," Colbert said. "Once again, Trump is foiled by his arch-nemeses, sunlight and reading." He read what he wished the agreement included, then said it actually contains "kind of boilerplate" language about Mexico having 45 days to stem the flow of migrants, "but there's nothing in there that's a secret thing that we haven't heard about before." He lightheartedly struggled to make sense of Trump's explanation for when he could reveal the secret deal that everybody already knows about.

Jimmy Fallon was also bemused by Trump's secret sheet of paper — and he also claimed to know what it said. "Yeah, here at The Tonight Show, we find out those types of things," he joked. "It says: 'Do you want to make an agreement? Sí or No?'" Fallon then tricked audience members into dressing up like a raptor. Watch below. Peter Weber

May 17, 2019

"There's nothing better for taking your mind off a looming trade war than a looming war war," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. And "we might be headed to one with Iran." He explained the omens: "Rising tensions in the Middle East, American military moved to the region based on questionable intelligence — the worst Throwback Thursday ever. And I'm not the only one who feels this way — so does Donald Trump! ... In this case, Trump is absolutely right here — and if anyone knows how not to go to war, it's Donald Trump."

Except that Trump hired John Bolton to run his national security policy. "Bolton has advocated regime change in Iraq, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran — it's all promoting his business, Quagmires 'R' Us," Colbert joked. "So who's going to win this argument, the president or his national security adviser?" He was not reassured by Trump's answer.

With the possibility of war with Iran, the Defense Department really, actually sent Kiss frontman Gene Simmons out to meet the press at the Pentagon podium, and then Simmons headed to meet with Trump in the Oval Office. Colbert arched an eyebrow: "Wow, an alleged sexual harasser who wears scary clown makeup at the White House, and Gene Simmons visited?"

"Trump was in the Rose Garden this afternoon pushing a brand new immigration plan," Colbert said. "It's slightly more nuanced than his previous strategy, 'Wall!' The new plan comes courtesy of professional daughter-husband Jared Kushner," and it favors "merit-based" immigration over family ties. "Really?" Colbert asked. "Jared Kushner is really calling for an end to giving people special treatment because of their relatives? You don't want to rethink that?"

It hardly matters. "Both Democrats and Republicans hate this plan," Colbert said, and he had a visual demonstration of what Politico called "Jared's big whiff." Watch below. Peter Weber

April 10, 2019

Immigration is the throbbing id of President Trump's politics, and it also "got him two of his wives," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "But there's been a huge spike in illegal immigration since Trump took office, and he looks like an idiot — not sure which of those two things came first — so he's mad, he's hoppin' mad." Trump has reacted with a purge of the Department of Homeland Security, from outgoing Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on down. "It is going to be tough to find people to fill those positions — if only there was a group of folks willing to do jobs Americans don't want to do," he deadpanned.

On Tuesday, Trump "denied he's doing the things that he's already started doing," including "cleaning house" at DHS and coming up with his administration's migrant family separation policy, Colbert said. He acerbically reminded Trump that, contrary to his claim, former President Barack Obama did not come up with or enact that policy, or publicly defend it, like Trump did "in the same meeting where you claimed it was all Obama's fault. ... Don't get me wrong, Obama's no angel here," Colbert said, teeing up an adorable slide show. "I mean, there is ample evidence of Barack taking kids from their parents, subjecting them to harsh interrogations, even confiscating all of their hugs."

"Now President Trump evidently does not care that his border policy isn't — uh, what's the word? — legal," Colbert said. He delivered a PSA to the border agents Trump reportedly told to break the law.

The Late Show also had some advice for anyone hoping to join the ranks of Trump's growing "acting" Cabinet, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

April 9, 2019

President Trump is "upset with Homeland Security, but his real problem, as usual, is with the law," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. Legally, anyone facing persecution can seek asylum at the U.S. border. "But here's the thing: The more Trump complains about illegal immigrants, the worse the problem gets," he said. "Some experts say migrants are choosing to make the crossing now because they fear that Trump's tough policies will make it harder to get across later."

Frustrated that his policies aren't working, Trump tweeted out a threat and warning on Sunday night, claiming "Our Country is FULL!" Colbert read the tweets, and he disagreed. "First off, I don't think our country is full — I mean, did you see his inauguration crowd?" he joked. "Look at all that empty space — you could fit, like, three Mexicos in there." In a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition on Saturday, "Trump explained why he wants to turn away desperate migrants fleeing for their lives," Colbert said, playing part of the speech. "Again, that's the Republican Jewish Coalition applauding turning away immigrants fleeing persecution. #AlwaysForget."

"Trump is saying this 'full' thing over and over again," he said. "It's the new 'Lock her up!' or 'Build the wall' — you know eventually it's going to end up as a call-and-response." To demonstrate, Colbert went with an Exodus theme and got some help from the band. Watch below. Peter Weber

April 2, 2019

"In response to a surge of migrants coming into this country, today [President] Trump unveiled a new approach that treats asylum-seekers fairly and humanely," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "April Fools!" Actually, "Trump threatened to shut the Mexico border — just in time for Spring Break," he said. "Hey, college kids, I know you had your hearts set on Cancún, but how about Spring Break Wall!'"

"Trump announced his threat in an epic, three-part policy tweet," Colbert said, and he had to take two water breaks while reading them. Then he explained why closing the border would be bad, threatening 5 million American jobs, for example — and America's entire avocado supply. "Holy lack-of-guacamole," Colbert said. "What are we supposed to put on our toast now? Jelly? You go to Concord Grape hell, old man."

"Officials are claiming that the United States will run out of avocados within three weeks if President Trump closes the U.S.-Mexico border, which is bad," Seth Meyers agreed on Late Night. "But I think it's way more disconcerting that everything has to be explained to the public in avocados. 'There will be a trade war! Families will be torn apart! Our national reputation will be damaged!' 'Uh huh.' 'No guacamole!' 'What!?! Impeach!'"

Frustratingly, Trump's policies are just making the border crisis worse, Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. Cutting aid to Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala — the three "Mexican countries," as Fox News put it — will only drive more migrants to America, he said. But "don't worry, the president already has a solution for that: He's going to slap a 'closed' sign at the bottom of America."

Shutting down the border "wouldn't just hurt the hombres down south," Noah said, pointing to the avocado shortage. "Once again, Donald Trump has shown there's no problem he can't make twice as bad. Because you realize if white people can't get avocados in America, they're going to start fleeing to Mexico, and now there's going to be a crisis on both sides of the border." Watch below. Peter Weber

February 12, 2019

"America could be sliding toward a new government shutdown," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. Lawmakers are in talks, "but Trump might not wait for Congress to get his wall," he said. "Remember the thousands of troops he sent down to the border because he couldn't get his wall? Well, now the White House is saying they might declare a national emergency because they need the wall to protect the troops near the southwestern border."

"Tonight, Trump took national security into his own hands by personally going to the border and yelling at it, giving a rally in El Paso," Colbert said. El Paso was safe before the wall and it's safe now, he added, suggesting Trump picked the city for his rally by "looking at his favorite taco products." But mostly, Trump has been spending his days in "Executive Time," tweeting, Colbert said. He defined "Executive Time" as "awake but not out of bed yet" but "also what Paul Manafort is serving."

"Apparently, Trump spent a lot of his 'Executive Time' checking out his competition in 2020, like Sen. Amy Klobuchar, seen here announcing her campaign this weekend on either a nice day in Minnesota or a bad day on the ice planet Hoth," Colbert joked. "Trump was not impressed," trying to mock Klobuchar for "talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard," looking "like a Snowman(woman)!" Colbert found Trump's sensitivity "so sweet, very nice, very thoughtful. For a guy who's too dumb to understand how winter works, he is surprisingly respectful of snowperson gender identity." Trump "also rehashed some racist greatest hits about Elizabeth Warren and in general was just terrible," Colbert said, but he also told everyone to light up. "I kind of feel like he's sending mixed signals on Twitter: 'Everyone just kick back, chillax, and get murdered by an immigrant.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

January 10, 2019

Wednesday's Late Show opened with an abbreviated version of President Trump's Tuesday night address from the Oval Office, using added cue cards to highlight his prominent breathing and overall truthiness.

Trump met Wednesday with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to try to negotiate an end to the 19-day-long government shutdown, and "the meeting did not last long," Stephen Colbert said, because when Pelosi told Trump she wouldn't agree to fund his border wall, he cut it short. "He slammed the table and walked out — he was so angry he did exercise!" he deadpanned. After the meeting, Pelosi said Trump thinks the 800,000 federal workers who won't get paychecks Friday "maybe could just ask their father for more money, but they can't." Damn, Colbert said, Trump "should ask his father for some ointment, because he just got burned!"

"If you are disappointed about this breakdown in talks, then you must have been really disappointed last night," when Trump gave a "low-energy Jeb-version" of his standard immigration stump speech, Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "And eight minutes of it was just Trump sniffing," he said, showing some examples. "He was sniffing so much, it sounds like he's trying to get all the drugs off the street himself." Noah talked through Trump's overheated immigration fearmongering, and he ended with a Melania joke and actual 2004 footage of Trump encouraging people to do whatever it takes to get around a concrete wall.

"In his speech Trump criticized Democrats, insulted immigrants, and said we need a wall," Jimmy Fallon said on The Tonight Show. "By the end, anyone playing a Trump drinking game was like, 'Call an ambulance!'"

On Late Night, Seth Meyers walked through Trump's evolving, convoluted history of talking about his wall, arguing that most of his supporters never expected him to build it "any more than they expected Trump to actually 'lock her up.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

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