Fact-checking a popular claim
By Timothy Easling, Senior Columnist
It’s been commonly accepted in mainstream media that Donald Trump referred to all Mexicans as “rapists” during his 2016 presidential bid. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have both made reference to the quote in recent months and many outlets continue to do so—regardless of whether it is a neutral or anti-Trump piece.
The quote commonly referenced is this section: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you *pointing to the audience*. They’re not sending you *pointing again*. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
Unfortunately, this is generally where most outlets stop. The very next line is: “And some, I assume, are good people!” However, the important context comes as Trump continued: “It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”
As is obvious when more of the text is revealed, Trump was referring to illegal immigrants who commit crimes—not Mexicans in general. Trump was not even referring just to Mexico, but rather, all the crime that was entering the country and the USA’s poor handling of the situation—something he later clarified: “The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world. On the other hand, many fabulous people come in from Mexico and our country is better for it. But these people are here legally, and are severely hurt by those coming in illegally. I am proud to say that I know many hard working Mexicans—many of them are working for and with me…and, just like our country, my organization is better for it.”
As a note, the concern about incoming crime is well-founded based on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Fiscal Year 2019 Enforcement and Removal Operations Report. Assault—number four on the list of Criminal Charges and Convictions for ERO Administrative Arrests—accounted for 45,804 total offences. There are 28 other criminal categories listed by the report, including sexual assault, weapon offences, larceny, homicide, and kidnapping.
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