Just as the horror of Donald Trump, the presidential candidate, is starting to recede thanks to the much more immediate horror of Donald Trump, the president, he decided to go all the way back to the beginning on Thursday, resurrecting one of his first and most infamous remarks of all time by suggesting that the so-called “refugee caravan” of migrants journeying through Mexico is raping its way across the country en route to the U.S.
During a roundtable in West Virginia, which was supposed to be about tax reform, Trump deliberately hearkened back to the first day of his campaign, when he announced his candidacy by saying undocumented people crossing the border include “rapists” who bring “drugs” and “crime.”
“Remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower when I opened,” he told the audience on Thursday. “Everybody said, ‘Oh, he was so tough.’ I used the word ‘rape.’ Yesterday, it came out where this journey [is] coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don’t want to mention that.”
As was the case when he said it almost three years ago, there’s no evidence to support Trump’s claim that undocumented immigrants disproportionately commit acts of rape. In fact, the data shows the opposite: undocumented people living in the country commit crimes less often than American citizens, per capita.
Trump was referring to the “caravan” of some 1,200 immigrants from Central America currently traveling through Mexico in search of a safe haven from the violence that’s torn countries like Honduras apart. While numerous American media outlets have reported that Mexican authorities halted the caravan and deported hundreds of its members as a response to pressure from Trump, organizers of the ground told Splinter that’s not the case.
It’s also unclear what Trump was referencing by saying that news came out “yesterday,” as no mainstream outlets appear to have covered any such claims, and a BuzzFeed reporter who’s been following the caravan said he hadn’t seen or heard anything to back up Trump’s claims about rape.
But one day after both Trump’s Homeland Security chief and his press secretary declined to say whether he decided to deploy the National Guard to the southern border because of something he saw on TV, it’s not hard to imagine the fever swamp from which Trump plucked his latest racist, bald-faced lie.