After a week-plus of getting hammered over the comments he made about illegal immigrants from Mexico during his mid-June announcement speech, Donald Trump has released a lengthy statement defending them once again.
In classic Trump style, though, his defense is an attempt to reframe the vagueness of what he was talking about into something more easily defensible. And in classic Trump style, he can't quite get through it without 1) a lot of words and 2) several more exaggerations.
Below we present Trump's statement, with annotations. We are sensitive to the argument that parsing Trump's words is an often-fraught exercise, but Trump is currently one of the leading Republican candidates for president. It's worth breaking down 800-plus word statements from people in that position.
I don’t see how there is any room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the statement I made on June 16th during my Presidential announcement speech. Here is what I said, and yet this statement is deliberately distorted by the media:
"I don't see how there is any room for misunderstanding" his statement, Trump writes, and then feels the need to clarify the first sentence.
“When Mexico (meaning the Mexican Government) 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 [Ed. - He actually said "with."] us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people! But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. 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.”
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.
He wasn't necessarily talking about illegal immigrants, see -- he was talking about the people being sent by the Mexican government! This is a hallmark of Trump's rhetoric: Deliberate vagueness that he then allows to crystallize around the most politically popular or defensible point.
This was evident just this week when, as an example, a young woman in San Francisco was viciously killed by a 5 time deported Mexican with a long criminal record, who was forced back into the United States because they didn’t want him in Mexico.
The death of Kate Steinle on a pier in San Francisco is an unquestionable tragedy. The shooter, Francisco Sanchez, claims that the shooting was an accident. Sanchez has seven felony convictions, three of which were for entering the country illegally and four of which are drug-related. He was arrested in March on a warrant for possession of marijuana.
What's relevant to Trump's argument here, though, is how Sanchez got back into the country after having been deported multiple times. There's no evidence that he was sent here by the Mexican government.
This is merely one of thousands of similar incidents throughout the United States.
At first, it's not clear what "incidents" Trump is referring to here. People crossing back over the border? That certainly happens thousands of times. Illegal immigrants shooting and killing people? That's probably true over the span of multiple years.
Then, he clarifies.
In other words, the worst elements in Mexico are being pushed into the United States by the Mexican government.
Again: There doesn't appear to be any evidence that this happens at all, much less with any regularity.
But again, notice the bait-and-switch. When Trump was defending his comments last week, he was defending the general understanding of what he'd said: that illegal Mexican immigrants were causing crime. Trump has raised Steinle's death in San Francisco multiple times in service to that broad "immigrants are criminals" argument -- even as it serves as one anecdote battling a lot of data. If his argument is "the Mexican government sent him," though, it offers no evidence whatsoever.
With this clarification that he only meant the government, he's trying to argue that this is what he meant all along. Clearly it wasn't -- especially since he instantly loses the thread once again.
The largest suppliers of heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs are Mexican cartels that arrange to have Mexican immigrants trying to cross the borders and smuggle in the drugs. The Border Patrol knows this.
It is true that cartels have smuggled drugs across the border using young people and other immigrants, though it's not clear where one draws the line between "drug smuggler" and "immigrant" in that respect. And notice here that we're not talking about the government any more. Trump is switching back and forth between criminal immigrants and a nefarious government, defending himself by claiming he only meant the latter, but then in the same breath also injecting the former.
Likewise, tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border. The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world.
The idea that "tremendous infectious disease" is coming across the border is questionable. Undocumented immigrants don't undergo the same sort of health checks that documented immigrants do. There was an apparent outbreak of scabies -- caused by mites -- during last year's immigration crisis, and an incident of chicken pox halted processing at another center. Immigrants were blamed for a recent measles outbreak, but that was likely unfounded. The good news is that if "tremendous infectious disease" is crossing the border, it doesn't seem to actually be infecting anyone.
Trump now takes a second to praise Mexicans, in the same way he called Mexican immigrants rapists and then said some were "good people."
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.
Then, back to bashing the Mexican government. It's worth noting, by the way, that Trump has been angry with the country's legal system after failing to be able to collect a legal settlement against a former business partner.
The Mexican Government wants an open border as long as it’s a ONE WAY open border into the United States. Not only are they killing us at the border, but they are killing us on trade … and the country of Mexico is making billions of dollars in doing so.
I have great respect for Mexico and love their people and their peoples’ great spirit. The problem is, however, that their leaders are far smarter, more cunning, and better negotiators than ours. To the citizens of the United States, who I will represent far better than anyone else as President, the Mexican government is not our friend…and why should they be when the relationship is totally one sided in their favor on both illegal immigration and trade. I have pointed this out during my speeches and it is something Mexico doesn’t want me to say.
At this point, Trump offers a theory about the spat with Univision that kicked off his recent troubles.
In actuality, it was only after my significant rise in the polls that Univision, previously my friend, went ballistic. I believe that my examples of bad trade deals for the United States was of even more concern to the Mexican government than my talk of border security.
It's true that Univision's statement distancing itself from Trump came only after a Fox News poll showed him gaining. Trump suggests below, as he has in the past, that Univision was attacking him at the behest of the Mexican government, which we'll come back to.
I have lost a lot during this Presidential run defending the people of the United States.
An estimated $50 million, so far, in fact.
I have always heard that it is very hard for a successful person to run for President. Macy’s, NBC, Serta and NASCAR have all taken the weak and very sad position of being politically correct even though they are wrong in terms of what is good for our country. Univision, because 70% of their business comes from Mexico, in my opinion, is being dictated to by the Mexican Government. The last thing Mexico wants is Donald Trump as President in that I will make great trade deals for the United States and will have an impenetrable border--only legally approved people will come through easily.
His ability to "make great trade deals" and "have an impenetrable border" notwithstanding, the 70 percent figure is questionable. Univision and the Mexican company Televisa have a complicated business relationship, with the latter still owning a small portion of the former. But the network airs in the United States, making it hard to see how the 70 percent figure is derived.
It's worth pointing out that NBC, NASCAR, Serta and Macy's do not get 70 percent of their business from Mexico. And it's also worth noting that Trump previously claimed he ended his relationship with Macy's, not the other way around.
He goes on with Univision for a while.
Interestingly, Univision has just announced they are attempting to go public despite very poor and even negative earnings, which is not a good situation for a successful IPO or high stock price—not to mention that I am currently suing them for breach of contract. Remember, Univision is the one who began this charade in the first place, and they are owned by one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest backers.
Trump is likely referring to Haim Saban when he refers to Univision's "owner." Saban's firm owns part of the company, along with a number of other investors.
At long last, Trump is ready to wrap up.
After the speech was made, there were numerous compliments and indeed, many rave “reviews” — there was very little criticism.
It wasn’t until a week after my announcement that people started to totally distort these very easy to understand words. If there was something stated incorrectly, it would have been brought up immediately and with great enthusiasm.
That's exactly what happened.
We'll give Trump the last word.
The issues I have addressed, and continue to address, are vital steps to Make America Great Again! Additionally, I would be the best jobs President that God ever created. Let’s get to work!