Donald Trump isn’t just a raging bigot for his claim that Mexican immigrants to this country are rapists, he also has his factual claims completely wrong. As the Washington Post documents, illegal immigrants to this country are less likely to commit crimes than the general population (since they obviously don’t want to get caught and deported).
With all of the furor that resulted, it’s worth noting the two hallmarks of classic Donald Trump that emerged from his response. First, he unfailingly stood by the comments, despite the fallout. And second, he’s wrong.
On CNN on Wednesday night, he offered a defense to anchor Don Lemon.
“If you look at the statistics, of people coming … I didn’t say about Mexico, I say the illegal immigrants —if you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything, coming in illegally to the country, they’re mind-boggling,” he told Lemon.
Every part of that is incorrect. He did say his comments about Mexico — explicitly. And data show that new immigrants — including illegal immigrants — are actually less likely to commit crime, not more.
—”Foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their life course.” (Bianca Bersani, University of Massachusetts, 2014. Published in Justice Quarterly.)
Citing Bersani’s work, Pew Research created this graph, showing crime rates among the immigrant community.
“The crime rate among first-generation immigrants — those who came to this country from somewhere else — is significantly lower than the overall crime rate and that of the second generation,” they write.
How did Trump get a simple point so wrong? Consider the response he offered Lemon on his most contentious assertion. Trump offers a sort of ontological rationalization for the “rapists” claim: People are being raped, ergo it’s the immigrants’ fault.
Trump cited an article from Fusion. “Eighty percent of the women coming in … ” he says, trailing off. “You have to take a look at these stories. … It’s unbelievable, when you look at what’s going on. All I’m doing is telling the truth.”
Lemon correctly points out that the story was about immigrant women being raped. “Well,” Trump replies, “someone’s doing the raping, Don.” In apparent disbelief, Trump adds, “How can you say such a thing?”
The facts simply do not matter to Trump. They never have. And when called out for his lies, he dodges, obfuscates, tries to change the subject, attacks the person criticizing him — all of the classic tactics to avoid dealing with reality.