Fact Check: Kamala Harris Recycles Tim Kaine Claim About Trump and Mexicans

Debate Tim Kaine (Andrew Gombert/Pool via AP)
Andrew Gombert/Pool via AP

CLAIM: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) claimed that President Donald Trump called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals.”

VERDICT: MISLEADING. Trump was not talking about all Mexicans. This is an old, recycled attack from 2016.

During the 2016 vice presidential debate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) attacked then-Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana by claiming that then-candidate Donald Trump had “called Mexicans rapists and criminals” at his campaign launch.

Harris recycled that claim at the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday night. It was misleading then, and it is misleading now.

As Breitbart News noted in a fact check on the 2016 debate:

In his June 16, 2015 speech announcing his run for the presidency, Donald Trump said the following:

When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically.

The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.

Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. 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.

But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. 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— 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.

Trump was referring to illegal aliens coming over the U.S.-Mexico border who commit additional crimes, such as rape. As Breitbart Texas has extensively documented, it’s common for human traffickers to “to sexually assault or rape the females” en route to the U.S., and the smugglers “usually remove an article of clothing from the female they rape and they tie it tightly to a tree—a rape tree.”

Furthermore, it is true that as the U.S. suffers from a massive heroin epidemic that killed over 47,000 people in 2014 alone, “nearly all” of the heroin consumed in the U.S. is smuggled in by Mexican traffickers, as the Washington Post found. Drug trafficking is an inherently violent operation.

Trump made clear he was not talking about all Mexicans, or even all illegal immigrants from Mexico.

As Breitbart News noted at the time in 2015, Trump could have spoken more clearly. Nevertheless, he did not stereotype all Mexicans.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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