Republican deputy mayor compares immigrants to raccoons, offers weak apology

The deputy mayor of a New Jersey town has apologized after publishing an insensitive Facebook post comparing undocumented immigrants to a raccoon infestation, the Star-Ledger, NJ’s largest online newspaper reported, and praising President Donald Trump as the exterminator.

In a now-deleted post — but captured forever in a screenshot — Roxbury Township Deputy Mayor Rick Blood (R) likened Trump’s harsh deportation policies to getting rid of a raccoon infestation in the basement.

“You’ve been on vacation for two weeks, you come home, and your basement is infested with raccoons,” Blood wrote in part. “Hundreds of rabid, messy, mean raccoons have overtaken your basement. You want them gone immediately. You call the city, 4 different exterminators, but nobody can handle the job. But there is this one guy and he guarantees you to get rid of them, so you hire him.”

“Here’s why we want Trump… The country is a mess because politicians suck, the Republicans and Democrats can be two-faced & gutless, and illegals are everywhere,” Blood went on. “We want it all fixed!… This country is weak, bankrupt, our enemies are making fun of us, we are being invaded by illegals, we are becoming a nation of victims where every Tom, Ricardo, and Hasid is a special group with special rights… The raccoons have got to go.”

After the post received sharp outcry, Blood wrote a second, long Facebook post insisting that he had written his post knowing that it would be “construed as offensive to some, however it was not its intent.” He apologized three paragraphs into the Facebook post and called on lawmakers to reach an agreement “on the entire issue from the Dreamers to immigration to preventing future undocumented people from obtaining employment.”

“It is out in the public sphere and as such it is likely to exist in the digital world for quite a while,” Blood said. “I apologize for the post. There are those who will take advantage of this post to support their own position unfortunately on both sides of the issue.”

Blood is right to say the post is both offensive and had been taken advantage by “both sides” to “support their own position.” In fact, he personally took advantage of his original post to extol Trump’s immigration policies. But immigrants are not animals, diseased, nor rabid by any means. The undocumented population pay an estimated $11.74 billion to state and local taxes, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Two million foreign-born individuals live in his home state, the American Immigration Council reported, 500,000 of whom are undocumented and contribute to his state’s economy.

What Blood’s original post successfully does is that it dehumanize immigrants. In fact, the detention and deportation of many of those immigrants that Blood characterizes as “raccoons” ignores their humanity completely. Since the president took office, “non-criminal” arrests have doubled in the 2017 fiscal year, up to 37,734 arrests by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. At least one of those immigrants facing deportation live in Blood’s state and helped rebuild the Jersey Shore after Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012. Harry Pangemanan, an Indonesian immigrant, is now holed up in a Highland Park church to avoid arrest by ICE officials. The agency has long abided by a memo that urges agents to exercise discretion and best judgment when detaining immigrants at “sensitive locations” like churches, hospitals, and schools. Pangemanan, who has two U.S.-born children, helped to rebuild 200 houses in two Jersey Shore communities.