President Donald Trump harkened back to the racist attack he made on Mexican immigrants on the first day of his campaign in the summer of 2015 during a speech at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention Friday.
“These countries send up their worst,” Trump said, addressing the crowd assembled in Dallas, Texas. “Remember in my opening speech, I got criticized for it. Remember? Well, guess what. They’re not sending their finest. That I can tell you.”
In his opening speech nearly three years ago, Trump said Mexico was “not sending their best,” a racist attack that drove his campaign and eventually catapulted him into the White House.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said at the time. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
He resorted to the same dishonest smear Friday.
“We’re getting some real beauties in here,” he said. “But we’re taking MS-13 horrible killer gang members. We’re getting them out because our guys are much tougher than there is not even a little bit of a contest. And that’s the only language they understand. That’s the only language they understand. These are savage killers.”
That immigrants are more violent or commit crimes at a higher rate than non-immigrants is a lie Trump has used repeatedly to back up his racist, anti-immigrant policies.
He defended his original comments in 2015 saying, “What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”
It’s simply not true.
As The Washington Post wrote at the time, “Data on immigrants and crime are incomplete, but a range of studies show there is no evidence immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans. In fact, first-generation immigrants are predisposed to lower crime rates than native-born Americans.”
Immigration and crime have also had, as the Post noted, inverse trajectories since the 1990s: immigration has risen, while crime as fallen.
Trump’s address to the NRA convention comes just weeks after saying the powerful lobbying organization doesn’t have power over him.
“They [the NRA] have great power over you people,” he told a group of lawmakers gathered at the White House in February. “They have less power over me.”