During a lengthy Tuesday morning announcement that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination, real estate mogul Donald Trump claimed that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are “rapists” who “are bringing drugs” to the U.S. He also indicated that he would build a “great wall” on the southern U.S. border and that he would dismantle President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive action that has shielded hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Trump is the 12th Republican to enter the 2016 race thus far.
“When do we beat Mexico at the border?” Trump asked the crowd at his announcement at his namesake Trump Tower in New York City. “They are not our friend, believe me…The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems…When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best. They are not sending you. They are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs and they are bringing crime, and they’re rapists.”
“Some, I assume are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting,” Trump continued. “They are not sending us the right people. It’s coming 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 is happening and it has got to stop and it has to stop fast.”
Trump also indicated that he would build a “great, great wall on the southern border” and that he would undo the president’s executive action known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump’s claim that undocumented immigrants are rapists stem from a nativist argument often peddled by anti-immigrant activists and politicians. For example, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who’s introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at restricting immigration, has dedicated an entire webpage to undocumented immigrants who have killed American citizens. But as the American Immigration Council found in a report, the crime rates in the United States fell as the size of the immigrant population increased dramatically. What’s more, as the AIC report found, the decline in crime rates also occurred in southern border cities and other cities with large immigrant populations like San Diego, El Paso, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami.
Trump has a history of making extravagant claims against certain kinds of immigrants. Notably, he once advocated for European-only immigration. But when Trump met with undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country by their parents as young children in 2013, he softened his stance and told them that their stories had convinced him.
It seems particularly surprising that Trump would criticize immigrants as a hotelier and especially at Trump Tower. In 1990, Trump was sued for hiring and underpaying at least 200 undocumented workers to raze a building that previously stood where Trump Tower is located at now.