By telling elected representatives to "go back to where they came from," the U.S. president got what he wanted: to provoke outrage from the media and the opposition while diverting attention from the real issues.

As everyone knows, attack is the best form of defense. Donald Trump applies this principle at every possible opportunity and has recently proven it: After a week that has seen him suffer two setbacks - the forced resignation of his secretary of labor and the abandonment of his proposal to include a citizenship question in the census, following repudiation from the Supreme Court - the president of the United States has launched a flurry of insulting and xenophobic tweets since July 14 against four female Democrats who are very committed to defending immigrant rights.

In a way, Trump got what he wanted. The outrageous nature of this attack crossed an already blurred line, one which Americans have grown accustomed to from the White House for 2 1/2 years. As a result, the media and the Democrats have become mobilized by their indignation over the president’s statements, which they deem to be racist.

It is true that no president of the United States, the quintessential immigrant nation, has ever told elected representatives of the House of Representatives to "go back to where they came from." It just so happens that three of the four young women involved were born in the United States; the fourth immigrated as a child with refugee parents from Somalia.

Accompanied by a volley of insults against the political opinions and alleged anti-Semitism of these congresswomen, this new ode to a white America of a bygone era, intended to pander to the worst instincts of a part of Trump’s base, is, in fact, extremely reprehensible.

Ongoing Climate of Aggression and Xenophobia

Trump’s now familiar tactic of going further down the path of verbal insults to divert attention from the real issues should not distract us, however, from what is currently at issue in the United States: the treatment of prospective immigrants and the right to asylum.

Elected on the promise of curbing illegal immigration, Trump has encountered various legal, judicial, political and diplomatic obstacles from the very beginning of his term. Obstacles that he tries to overcome by any means.

He had to reverse his policy of separating children, including infants, from their parents. However, the detention of minors in overcrowded detention camp continues. These children are taken from the adults accompanying them, even if they are from the same family. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said she was "deeply shocked," after seeing children sleeping on the ground during her visit to the camps on July 8.

Furious about not being able to build the much-vaunted wall on the border with Mexico due to lack of funding, Trump has forced Mexico, under threat of punitive tariffs, to take responsibility for stopping migrants from Central America. On Monday, the Trump administration openly attacked the internationally accepted provisions governing the right to asylum by announcing that refugees could seek asylum in the United States only if they had already attempted to seek it in another country.

Uncontrolled illegal immigration is a challenge for governments of all developed countries, including those in Europe. It is reasonable to want to regulate the flows. But maintaining an ongoing climate of aggression and xenophobia, while attacking the foundations of the right to asylum, is not only disgraceful but also counterproductive.