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Trump gave border wall speech in front of photo of his immigrant mother



President Donald Trump on Tuesday delivered a speech on border security and immigration with a photo of his mother, a Scottish immigrant, in the background.

The photo could be seen over the president’s left shoulder.

Mary Anne MacLeod, who would eventually become Mary Trump, was from Tong — a poor, remote fishing community in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Read more: The life and lasting influence of Donald Trump’s mom, Mary Trump

She first came to the US in 1930 by way of Glasgow, Scotland, via the SS Transylvania, which was bound for New York City. Mary Trump’s father was a fisherman and a subsistence farmer, and she was one of 10 children.

Based on where she was from, Mary Trump’s fellow Scots would’ve considered her to be a “bit of a hick,” Richard Zumkhawala-Cook, an English professor who specializes in Scotland at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania told The New Yorker.

In short, life in Mary Trump’s isolated Scottish community was not easy, which is part of what inspired her to go to the US in search of better opportunities. According to local historians and genealogists, Mary Trump’s childhood home was a place of “human wretchedness” and the homes were “indescribably filthy.”

Mary Trump.
Mario Cabrera/AP

Mary Trump was 18 when she arrived in New York, and listed her occupation as “domestic” and “maid” on various documents. Her eldest daughter would later say during a speech that Mary Trump worked as a “nanny” during that time, Politico reported.

Read more: Fox News anchor Shep Smith doesn’t waste any time fact-checking Trump’s border security speech

She married Fred Trump after a brief courtship in 1936, which launched Mary Trump into a life of wealth and privilege. But like millions of immigrants who’ve come to the US since its earliest days, Mary Trump was once an impoverished young person who left her native country in search of a better life.

Mary Trump died in 2000 at the age of 88.

Donald Trump speaks to Fred and Mary Trump.
Associated Press

A photo of Trump’s father, whose parents immigrated to the US from Germany, could also be seen in the background during Trump’s speech on Tuesday.

Trump’s grandfather – Friedrich Trump – was 16 when he came to the US in 1885, and technically an unaccompanied minor. He first worked as a barber in New York City, but eventually went out to the Pacific Northwest and made a fortune during the Gold Rush.

Friedrich Trump eventually married an American woman and traveled back to Germany in 1904 an attempt to resettle there after he’d accumulated significant wealth in the US. But he was ultimately deported by the German government for avoiding mandatory military service as a teenager. He ended up bringing his family back to the US, settling down in New York City.

Indeed, the story of Trump’s family is linked to many of the issues the president cites in relation to immigration in the present day.

During his Oval Office address on border security, the president sought to catalyze support for a wall he wishes to build along the US-Mexico border. Trump’s border wall obsession, which dates back to his 2016 presidential campaign, has led to an ongoing fight with Democrats in Congress that has escalated into a partial government shutdown that’s lasted over two weeks.

Read more: Donald Trump Jr. compared immigrants to zoo animals in an Instagram post on the border wall

Polls have shown a majority of Americans oppose building the wall, which experts have said would be costly and ineffective. Most Americans also oppose the government shutdown and blame Trump for it.

But Trump presented the wall as an important means of deterring violence committed by undocumented immigrants, ignoring statistics that show native-born Americans are more likely to commit violent crime than immigrants without legal permission to be in the US.

“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” he said. “To those that refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask, imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken.”

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