Although I reject the notion that there is a significant difference between “legal” and “undocumented” immigrants, for today’s post I am going to focus on “legal” immigrants from Mexico and Trump’s comments. Rather than rely on the distorted news and political commentary, I am going straight to the source of the comments. I also added a video so that you can hear Trump’s words yourself.
It all started almost a year ago, on June 16, 2015, during Donald Trump’s formal announcement that he was running for president in 2016. About eight minutes into his announcement speech, Trump stated:
“When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best, they are not sending you, they are not sending you, they are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems with us [sic]. They are bringing drugs, they are bringing crime, they are rapists, and some, I assume are good people, but I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting. And it only makes common sense, it only makes common sense, they are sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than Mexico. It is coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming, probably, 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.”
First of all, my government, the Mexican government, did not send me to the United States. As a matter of policy, it is unlikely that Mexico “sends” its citizens to the United States. However, some of you would debate that, forcing us to be distracted by something neither of us can prove to each other conclusively.
So, let me focus on his actual comments. He stated that “they are bringing drugs, they are bringing crime, they are rapists,” and then he adds, “some, I assume are good people.”
So, do I fit in the rapists column or in the good people column?
“Some” is a very imprecise word. Does “some” include me? If so, am I a minority representative of Mexico? Am I one of the few that are law abiding? Or, am I one of the criminals that Trump is referring to?
I decided to attempt to answer that question by looking at subsequent public comments made by Trump about the issue.
On July 1, 2015, CNN’s Don Lemon asked Donald Trump, in a telephone interview, to clarify his statement about Mexican rapists coming from Mexico.
Donald Trump responded “…I didn’t say about Mexicans, I say the illegal immigrant, if you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything coming illegally into this country, they’re mind boggling.”
Throughout the interview, Trump kept referring to “studies,” especially Fusion, that, according to Trump, showed significant cases of rapes. Lemon pointed out that the three studies Trump referred to were referring to women being raped, not that undocumented aliens were doing the raping. To which Donald Trump responded, “somebody is doing the raping…who’s doing the raping.”
Then on July 6, 2015, Fox News’ Howard Kurtz asked Donald Trump about the Mexican comments he made on an exclusive interview on “Tight Shot”. Kurtz asked Trump, “why not” apologize for the comments. Trump responded that he did not need to apologize and reiterated that the comment was about the insecurity at the border. Trump added, “I employ thousands of Mexicans…I have employed many thousands of Mexicans…I love the Mexican people…they are fantastic, and everyone knows that.”
When challenged about his “tone” by using words like “rapist,” Donald Trump brought up that many “woman crossing the border are being raped.” Trump reiterated the fear of open borders that many have articulated over the years.
On July 11, 2015, in a press conference about dealing with undocumented immigrants, Donald Trump again addressed his “rapist” comments. Trump, again stated that “Mexico, is sending people that Mexico doesn’t want, and everyone knows, that was what I was saying and everyone knows that I have great relationships with Mexican people. I have many, many people who work for me who are Mexican people, they are phenomenal people, I love them.”
Ok, so now, not only does he “love” the Mexican people, but his rhetoric is about undocumented immigrants that are the “rapists”. Trump and others have argued that Donald Trump’s comments, about Mexicans, was targeted at the undocumented immigrants, not legal immigrants like myself. Others have also argued that Trump is talking about the Mexican government, and not individuals, again, like myself.
The problem that I have with Donald Trump’s political rhetoric is that it points to an attitude that groups many people by nationality and heritage. Let us assume, for a moment, that Donald Trump really means that it is the government of Mexico that is “sending” rapists across the border.
First, I am not aware of any official Mexican government policy of “sending” Mexicans across the border. I am aware of the notion that some hold that the Mexican government supports the undocumented labor force in the United States because of the remittances sent by them to family members in Mexico. I disagree with this sentiment wholeheartedly because I see no evidence that it is a matter of policy, that the Mexican government “sends” people across the border. As a matter of fact, Mexico continuously irritates prosecutors by intervening in criminal cases that carry the death penalty involving Mexican citizens. Mexico and the United States, as a matter of fact, have a bilateral treaty whereby each country’s citizens can serve their criminal sentences in their respective countries. The rhetoric that Mexico exports its criminal element to the United States is not supported by the facts.
But let us table that discussion for a moment.
Donald Trump is articulating a wrongly held belief, that many hold, that Mexicans by and large are fundamentally criminal. Here is where we get into the slippery slope of citizenship and heritage.
The term “Mexican” is almost always misused in the common vernacular, especially in political rhetoric.
As misused, a “Mexican” can either be a citizen of Mexico, documented or undocumented, or an individual of Mexican heritage of either nationality.
I am both, a citizen of Mexico and of Mexican heritage. I am also an immigrant.
Making a universal statement about Mexicans being predisposed to criminality leaves the impression that the grand majority of the over 30 million people of Mexican-heritage in the United States are criminals. Making the argument that Mexico “sends” criminals across the border leaves the impression that Mexican immigrants, like myself, are predisposed to be criminals.
But, Donald Trump has reiterated that he “loves” Mexican people and that “many Mexicans” have worked for him over the years. The argument being that I am taking Trump’s comments personally, although he didn’t mean me.
The fact is that I do not know if Donald Trump meant me specifically or was he talking about other Mexicans. I have never met Donald Trump and therefore I have never asked him if he meant me personally. Regardless, Trump knows nothing about me so he would be unable to offer a fair assessment of me.
What I do know is that the tone of his commentary offends me. I believe that it is a deeply-held belief that Donald Trump has within himself about Mexicans. Obviously, he is unlikely to admit it publicly, especially in midst of the presidential race.
However, to show you this fundamental thought process that exists within Trump, all I need to do is point you to a CNN interview that Donald Trump gave on June 3, 2016, just a few days ago. The interview shows you clearly that it is about his animosity about the Mexican heritage, notwithstanding his political rhetoric.
CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed Donald Trump numerous times about whether Trump’s comments, about the judge overseeing the Trump University lawsuits, were “racist” comments. Trump stated, “this judge is of Mexican heritage, I’m building a wall.” When challenged about invoking the judge’s race, Trump responded, “I’m building a wall, ok, I’m building a wall, I’m trying to keep business out of Mexico.” When challenged with the fact that the judge is a US citizen, Trump responded that “he is of Mexican heritage.”
Do you see the generalized argument that the judge is biased against Trump because he is a “Mexican”? Trump argues that the reason that he is still in litigation is because of the judge’s “heritage,” ending the discussion with “I’m building a wall…he’s a Mexican…it’s a wall between the United States and Mexico”.
Anyone critically listening to Donald Trump’s recent tirade against the judge, a US citizen, born and raised in the United States, can clearly see that Donald Trump has an animosity towards Mexicans, both the citizens of Mexico and those of Mexican heritage, whether legal or undocumented.
For me, this latest example reinforces that Donald Trump included me in the general category of being a Mexican rapist when he delivered his presidential announcement over a year ago. Of this, I have no doubt.