Trump ‘Jokes’ About Shooting Migrants At The Border

Apparently, the President thinks shooting people is amusing.

In what he now claims was a joke, the President apparently speculated about an alligator-filled moat and shooting migrants to slow them down during an immigration policy meeting, The New York Times reports:

The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.

The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next.

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.

“The president was frustrated and I think he took that moment to hit the reset button,” said Thomas D. Homan, who had served as Mr. Trump’s acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recalling that week in March. “The president wanted it to be fixed quickly.”

Mr. Trump’s order to close the border was a decision point that touched off a frenzied week of presidential rages, round-the-clock staff panic and far more White House turmoil than was known at the time. By the end of the week, the seat-of-the-pants president had backed off his threat but had retaliated with the beginning of a purge of the aides who had tried to contain him.

Today, as Mr. Trump is surrounded by advisers less willing to stand up to him, his threat to seal off the country from a flood of immigrants remains active. “I have absolute power to shut down the border,” he said in an interview this summer with The New York Times.

This article is based on interviews with more than a dozen White House and administration officials directly involved in the events of that week in March. They were granted anonymity to describe sensitive conversations with the president and top officials in the government.

On Twitter this morning, Trump claimed he was joking:

Of course, Trump has often said that controversial things he has said in the past are merely “jokes,” so I suppose you’ll have to judge for yourself. As it stands, though, the fact that the President would even jokingly refer to shooting people who are coming here to seek asylum tells us just how sick his mind really is. It’s not funny, and quite honestly I believe that if Trump thought he could get away with it, he’d go ahead and give the order.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    If there is a cost estimate for a moat, it wasn’t a joke.

    I’m sure his base would laugh at the idea of shooting immigrants, and might try to see how funny it is in reality.

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  2. Teve says:

    But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.

    Trump does more impeachable things before breakfast than most presidents do all day.

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  3. Kathy says:

    BTW, Kamala Harris asked Twitter’s CEO to suspend Trump’s account. She has a point, in that Dennison constantly and consistently violates the terms of use.

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  4. Moosebreath says:

    @Kathy:

    “If there is a cost estimate for a moat, it wasn’t a joke.”

    Did the cost estimate include leveling the ground so that the water added where the surface is 1500 feet above sea level does not run into either the Rio Grande or the Pacific Ocean? And what about the amount of concrete needed to ensure the water in the moat doesn’t get absorbed by the soil? Even by Trump standards, this is hare-brained.

  5. Paul L. says:

    Trump ‘Jokes’ About Shooting illegal aliens who demands US citizen rights, cares nothing about US law and sovereignty and supports you having no rights if you migrated to their home county At The Border.

    Hate Speech!!!!!

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  6. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I think a cost estimate for a moat filled with snakes and alligators is hilarious, and we need to FOIA that.

    Questions I want to see answered:
    – How many reptiles per mile of moat are required to provide an effective deterrent?
    – What is the ongoing care required for the animal health?
    – Where do you get all the water for the moat in the desert?
    – Given that the border is not flat, will this moat be segmented, or use a series of locks?
    – If we make the moat wide enough for ship traffic, can we charge tolls and make it pay for itself? (This also requires locks)
    – Would the large number of snakes and alligators discourage ship traffic?

    I’m surprisingly on board with the Donald J. Trump Endangered Watersnake Preserve, 100 yards wide, 2000 miles long.

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  7. JohnMcC says:

    @Gustopher: Seems like a great venue for some RedBull Race or American Gladiator competition. Wonder how much the Gov’t would charge organizers for the use of the moat and wall?

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Like amputating Rahm Emanuel’s hands, that would render him practically speechless.

    Pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease…..

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.: They have the right to request asylum at our border. By treaty and by US law.

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  10. Paul L. says:

    @Gustopher:

    If we make the moat wide enough for ship traffic, can we charge tolls and make it pay for itself? (This also requires locks)

    Rio Grande

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    According to the DACA precedent, the Law is not important.

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  11. al Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    Trump ‘Jokes’ About Shooting illegal aliens who demands US citizen rights, cares nothing about US law and sovereignty and supports you having no rights if you migrated to their home county At The Border.

    You do realize that it is not illegal to seek asylum at the United States border?

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  12. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.:

    Rio Grande

    Ariana Grande

    You’re not making sense anymore. Have you received a blow to the head?

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  13. CSK says:

    @Kathy: If there was a cost estimate for a moat done, it was probably done just to placate Trump and shut him up.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.: Presidents have long chosen which laws they want to enforce fully, and which laws they want to enforce in only the most egregious circumstances. It’s called “prosecutorial discretion”. It’s why so many US employers never face any charges for the hiring of undocumented workers even tho it’s illegal, their business model is dependent on the practice, and the reason undocumented immigrants come here to work.

    Funny isn’t it? I never hear any immigration hardliners complaining about trump’s lack of prosecuting these employers for it. I wonder why that is?

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  15. Gustopher says:

    @JohnMcC: We would then need to create another wall, to keep the Mexicans out of our X-Treme Watersports And Water Moccasins Playground.

    Two walls with a moat filled with poisonous water snakes and alligators… this might be an effective deterrent.

    And if not, anyone who can scale two walls, dodge snakes and wrestle an alligator with their bare hands should be considered a Real American (TM) regardless of race, ethnicity, language or country of origin.

    CBP can just be waiting on the other side to naturalize those who complete the course.

  16. Teve says:

    @CSK:

    If there was a cost estimate for a moat done, it was probably done just to placate Trump and shut him up.

    right now I bet there’s a gator farm 3 hours south of me where one employee is asking another “you hear about that phone call Jerry got?”

  17. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: they can film it and call the show Mexican Ninja Warrior.

  18. CSK says:

    From Trump’s Twitter feed this morning: “Now the press is trying to sell the fact that I wanted a Moat stuffed with alligators and snakes…”

    Notice the word I bolded? Did he admit something?

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  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Moosebreath: What? You mean bedrock isn’t like 20 or so feet down? Then can we line the moat with river stone to slow down the seepage?

    ETA: @Paul L.: The moat is about the part where the Rio Grande doesn’t flow. Try to keep up.

    “…they can film it and call the show Mexican Ninja Warrior.” Good Idea! Paul L and Guarneri will watch for sure. Probably JBK, too.

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  20. Mister Bluster says:

    “Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China”, said Donald Trump.
    Twitter 3:54am 1 Oct 2019

    So who does he love more?
    a) Communist China
    b) Kim Jong Un
    c) Paul L.

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  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: D) Vladimir Putin

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  22. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Paul L.: Cliven Bundy and a bunch of his supporters assaulted Federal officers. I’d like to see that law enforced. I’d like to see him pay the fines he owes as well. I’m not likely to, it seems.

    With any specific case of enforcement, there’s a cost/benefit analysis. Why would deporting young people who came here as infants and have known no other home be a benefit? Doesn’t it make sense to focus resources which are quite limited on deporting people who are actually causing trouble? Is that policy somehow a problem for you?

    And yeah, I’d be happy to support paying for more officers, more judges, more holding cells. But not a moat, or a wall, because it’s dumb, and won’t help.

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  23. Joe says:

    @CSK: He admitted yet again that he has only the most tenuous grasp of the English language. He is a walking embodiment of the Montoya Principal.

  24. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    If there was a cost estimate for a moat done, it was probably done just to placate Trump and shut him up.

    Maybe. But in order to shut Trump up, wouldn’t it have been sufficient to point out the many times moats, often with alligators, have failed such icons as Yosemite Sam?

  25. Mikey says:

    From the article:

    Take the land, Mr. Trump would say, and let them sue us.

    I wonder what our self-proclaimed Constitutional! Conservatives! think about this attempt by Trump to wipe his ass with the Constitution?

    Aw, who am I kidding? They’d find a way to excuse that just like they find a way to excuse all his other outrages. Because it’s a fucking cult.

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  26. CSK says:

    @Joe:

    I know. But surely even he knows the difference between a fact and a notion. Maybe not.

    @Kathy: Possibly, since it’s a Looney Tunes production.

  27. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Careful what you say, Mr. President. Karma is a b1tch.

  28. Fortunato says:

    @Gustopher:
    I’m surprisingly on board with the Donald J. Trump Endangered Watersnake Preserve, 100 yards wide, 2000 miles long.

    It’s well documented that immigrants start new businesses at rates much higher than our native born population. And there are few who question their industrious, hard working, family oriented nature.
    Trump’s Trench would surely soon turn into a bustling, free enterprise development zone. A 2000 mile long waterway lined with Taquerias serving Crispy Alligator Poppers and Sizzling ‘Snake Bite’ appetizer plates. Colorful eateries who, along with their delicious foods, serve up some of the finest tequilas on the North American continent or, if you prefer, the local artisans take on ‘Swamp Brew’.
    After all, I count myself among most American’s – certainly among my friends P.J., Tobin and Squee – when I say “I liked beer. I still like beer. Sometimes I had too many beers.”

  29. Teve says:

    @Mikey: they got massive boners against eminent domain when Kelo v. City of New London happened, but if Trump says jump his chumps ask “how high?”

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  30. CSK says:

    @Teve: They were thrilled when he tormented that elderly woman in Atlantic City so he could build a limousine parking lot. I am not kidding. They were cheering over at Lucianne.com. How dare that old bag stand in his way?

  31. Paul L. says:

    @Gustopher:
    The Rio Grande would be part of the “Moat”.

    Like Gatun Lake and the Panama Canal.

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  32. Teve says:

    The Panama canal is 50 miles long and cost a little under four hundred million dollars which adjusted for inflation would be about 10 billion dollars today, so assuming the same cost per mile, making the US-mexico border a new Panama canal would cost 400 billion dollars, or roughly $3,125 per household in the United States.

  33. Paul L. says:

    @Teve:

    making the US-mexico border a new Panama canal would cost 400 billion dollars

    A year of the Iraq war, half of TARP or the Obama stimulus?

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  34. al Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    A year of the Iraq war, half of TARP or the Obama stimulus?

    The War in Iraq was completely unnecessary.

    TARP and the Obama Stimulus were both rational and necessary responses to the catastrophic economic crash of 2008.

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  35. mattbernius says:

    @al Ameda:

    TARP and the Obama Stimulus were both rational and necessary responses to the catastrophic economic crash of 2008.

    BTW, don’t you find it notable that all of our conservative friends have been rather quiet about the fact that Trump’s trade war with China has resulted in a bailout of farmers that is over *double* the amount of the auto “bailouts” (actually loans that were paid back).

    https://www.freep.com/story/money/business/john-gallagher/2019/09/24/farmer-bailout-payments-china-trade-tariffs/2418676001/

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  36. CSK says:

    Very OT, but…Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years, which means she’ll be out in seven. Not enough. Not nearly enough.

  37. An Interested Party says:

    A freaking moat stocked with snakes or alligators…and to think that there are still people who think this idiot is incredibly intelligent…it would be nice to have a president who didn’t think this country was his personal Lego set…

  38. Paul L. says:

    TARP and the Obama Stimulus were both rational and necessary responses to the catastrophic economic crash of 2008.

    Nope.
    See How Many Jobs The Obama Administration Thought The Stimulus Would Create, And What Really Happened
    @mattbernius:
    Now do Sugar tariffs and Corn subsidies.

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  39. Kathy says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Yeah, well, the people who think Dennison’s intelligent, are also attempting their very poor best to defend his latest idiocy. This lets you know why Trump is the stupid person’s idea of a genius.

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  40. al Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    Nope.

    Yes. The credit markets were locked up, there was close to no liquidity.
    The economy was shedding jobs at a rate of over 750,000 per month going into 2009, and the auto industry bailout and stimulus was necessary to stop the bleeding.

    I wonder why conservatives fail to understand that?
    Oh never mind, I know the answer, it’s because there was a Democrat in the White House.

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  41. the Q says:

    Actually, they discussed the merits of the moat to solve many problems.

    First, the moat makes the Wall superfluous, so the illegal “invasion” is solved. Also, they will push all that dirt into the gulf of Mexico to form a huge island where the Palestinians will be given a homeland, so that solves the Israel two state issue.

    Then to finance the moat, we make in wide enough to draw all the Panama Canal traffic and never have to worry about turning it over to the Mexicans because “we build it, we bought it and we paid for it.”

    So, not such a dumb idea after all.

  42. mattbernius says:

    @Paul L.:

    Now do Sugar tariffs and Corn subsidies.

    Ummm, they are included in that bailout my dude last I checked. They have increased under the current administration.

    If I’m wrong, please point me to a source as I’d love to read more about it.

    Or if you’re point is that this is one area that both parties are (sadly) in agreement on, well then I can’t argue with you on that. Fly-over country and patriot farmers love them handouts.

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  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “He is a walking embodiment of the Montoya Principal.”

    Que?

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Fortunato: Actually, that sounds pretty fun. And tasty. Alas, I suspect that I would, sadly, find that I’m allergic to snake as I know I’m allergic to eel. But maybe not, and I’ve never tried alligator, either.

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: That was only because [edit:] Kennedy Souter (IIRC) sided with the eminent domain side, so they got a chance to pwn the libs.

  46. Kathy says:

    While Trump’s daydreaming a five year-old’s fantasies of moats and alligators, his crush, Kim Jung Un has tested a sea-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

    That’s big. Kim’s building himself a nuclear triad.

    Of course, it matters how good his missile submarine is. One that can be detected by a deaf whale ten miles away is little good. But one that is hard to detect is deadly. Even a lousy one is dangerous, as you’d need to take it out during a preemptive strike.

    The missile flew only 450 km, which is very short range, but a sub positioned near Japan could easily hit US bases there, or Japan itself. Not to mention much or all of South Korea is well within its range.

  47. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    Are you unable to find maps on the Google?

    Dear Dummy: The Rio Grande is 60 feet deep at its deepest. It’s more ditch than river. And it does not follow the entire border, less than half, I believe. The Panama Canal was built by connecting lakes – there are no lakes to in Sonora. The part of the border that is not the Rio Grande is desert.

    In short, your president’s a moron. And so are you.

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  48. Mikey says:

    @Kathy:

    Kim’s building himself a nuclear triad.

    Well, Trump doesn’t even know what that is, so why would he worry?

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  49. Joe says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya: “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

  50. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Oh, but that’s just reality. Who cares about that?

    In Crazy Cheeto World, The Rio Grande runs from California to the Gulf of Texas, where it continues over the Atlantic Ocean, turning north, then west, then south to envelop Greenland. So, you see, by a treaty signed with Mexico, Greenland is north of the Rio Grande and therefore a part of Tha Trumpy States of Trump.

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  51. KM says:

    @Kathy:

    Maybe. But in order to shut Trump up, wouldn’t it have been sufficient to point out the many times moats, often with alligators, have failed such icons as Yosemite Sam?

    Actually we should be pointing out moats *aren’t* traditionally filled with wildlife on purpose. See, you kinda have to clean them out or they become cesspools of filth that breed disease right outside your front door. It wasn’t done often but cleaning it out was a special kind of hell that had to be done every so often or else. Ignoring the fact that alligators aren’t native to Europe, deadly water creatures in the moat intentionally there would have killed off the help and made the task impossible. Add in that wildlife has a tendency to wander and now you’ve got theoretical alligators wandering off to eat the villagers outside the castle and then who’s gonna farm the land? It’s fiction, period. An invention to add drama to a story. If it happened, it would have been to castles southerly enough to keep cold-blooded reptiles alive in the winter and as anyone in the South can tell you, keeping alligators out of water holes is a bitch.

    Meanwhile, Trump wants to introduce alligators and snakes that can eat the cattle ranchers have and kill people and wildlife, all because he can’t stop to think for 5 seconds and tell it’s a freaking story. It’s a cartoon in his head, high-walled castle with a moat, alligators and a drawbridge he can pull up will taunting the peasants on the other side.

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  52. Kathy says:

    A brief word on submarines:

    When submerged, submarines are devilishly hard to find. They won’t show on radar (it doesn’t penetraste water). You’re reduced to passive sonar (listening for the sounds of its engines), and trying to detect the slight disturbance int he Earth’s magnetic field a big chunk of magnetic metal creates.

    Submarines are designed to be quiet and are extensively soundproofed. The magnetic anomalies they create are small and narrow. So they are hard to find.

    You can use active sonar. That’s essentially radar using sound waves instead of microwaves. Some submarines are covered in sound-absorbing tiles for this reason, though they are still detectable. But you can hear a sonar from farther away than it returns useful echoes from (the same is true fo radar, BTW). This helps the submarine evade pursuers.

    So when you put nukes into such a platform, you have a very good chance to launch a nuclear strike in retaliation for a preemptive attack.

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  53. Kathy says:

    @KM:

    Oh, it’s obvious to me Trump’s conception of moats comes from cartoons.

  54. JohnMcC says:

    @Kathy: You will find it amusing that the citizens of Charleston SC describe their lovely city as ‘the place where the Cooper River and the Ashley River meet to form the Atlantic Ocean.’

  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Joe: That explains it. Have never seen Princess Bride.

  56. Matt says:

    @Kathy: Diesel subs have limited submerging ability. While stuff like Stirling engines can increase the underwater endurance the they are still going to have return to the surface or near surface regularly. Either activity is easy to spot via several methods including radar as the snorkles used can be picked up easily. Submerged speeds can be fairly decent depending on the design. Diesel subs are great if you’re playing defensively as their short range isn’t a problem and they are quieter than nuclear subs.

    Of course the reason why the USA runs nuclear powered subs is because we like our subs to be able to go anywhere for months at a time.

    Some years ago a Russian Akula-class attack submarine snuck into the gulf of Mexico for a while. Supposedly the sub hung out in the shadow of a super tanker as it was going into the gulf. The akula’s are designed for the “anti-boomer” role. Boomers being the nuclear missile armed submarines. The akula class is the stealthiest nuclear sub the Russians have right now.

  57. Kathy says:

    @Matt:

    I understand Diesels use batteries when submerged, so their endurance depends on their batteries. On the other hand, a Diesel running on batteries is far quieter than a nuclear boat.

    Kim could have a small fleet of such subs armed with SLBMs, and cause a panic every time they submerged.

    also, the odds of a nuclear conflict go way down if both sides know, or believe they know, that a disarming first strike is not possible.

  58. DrDaveT says:

    @Matt:

    Some years ago a Russian Akula-class attack submarine […]

    Fun fact: /akula/ means “shark” in Russian. Honda’s luxury car line Acura is the Japanese transliteration of the Russian, which is why their logo is a stylized A in the form of a shark tooth. The original version of the logo had no cross-bar, making it even more tooth-like.

    …except for some reason Honda decided they didn’t want the car to be associated with Russian sharks, so they retconned the logo as a pair of calipers, denoting precision, yet also a streamlined A or H (for Honda). It still looks like a shark tooth, and is still named for a shark, but Honda will insist that’s just coincidence.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  59. Matt says:

    @Kathy:

    On the other hand, a Diesel running on batteries is far quieter than a nuclear boat.

    I already said that…

    Kim could have a small fleet of such subs armed with SLBMs, and cause a panic every time they submerged.

    NK’s sub tech is primitive and they lack any refueling stations outside of their territory. They could send a sub out on a one way mission but considering how often their people defect when sent out of the country I’m not sure how well that’d work for them. Then there’s the complete lack of experience and training….

    It’ll be a while before the panic really begins as NK has much to figure out.

    @DrDaveT: Well that’s a completely different story than I was told. I’ve been told that Acura comes from the latin word Acu. Then there’s the japanese word Akira which others have said was the inspiration for the name. Originally back in the 90s I was told by those in the “ricer” scene that the name was computer generated. I had a b16 CRX back then.