Donald Trump, the president, summoned Donald Trump, the candidate, in a series of remarks about immigration policy on Thursday, invoking “rape” again in his attacks on U.S. ally Mexico.
At a roundtable discussion on tax reform in West Virginia, Trump turned to the issue of immigration, recalling remarks he made on the campaign trail. “Remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower, when I opened. Everybody said, ‘Oh, he was so tough,’” Trump said, referring to his 2015 presidential announcement, during which he called the Mexicans entering the U.S. “rapists.”
“I used the word rape. And yesterday it came out where this journey is coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody’s seen before. They don’t want to mention that. So we have to change our laws,” he continued.
While Trump did not clarify exactly what he was referring to, his comments appear to reference a caravan of Central American migrants making their way through Mexico toward the U.S., a subject Trump has mentioned several times in recent days.
This most recent invocation of the rate of rape in Central America is presumably part of Trump’s argument for strengthening immigration laws. In another tweet on Wednesday, Trump promised “strong action today” on border laws.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed Trump’s sentiments, telling Fox News that she is “not sure why the media is acting like this isn’t a well-established fact—women and young girls are brutally victimized on the journey north. Strikes me as quite bizarre that reporters would try to cover up the gross atrocities perpetrated by smugglers and coyotes.”