In a previous article, I discussed how Trump’s initial comments about Mexicans were widely misrepresented. I explained:
“My point is that since reporters don’t report what Trump actually says about Mexicans, repeatedly, to tens of thousands of people in many states, then it’s easy for readers to wrongly imagine that Mr. Trump is ‘spreading hate’ across the US, and that the thousands of people who cheer for him hate Mexican people.”
I thought it would be interesting to collect what Trump has really said, to show how the media have misrepresented his claims.
So I collected many of Trump’s statements about Mexicans. Reporters do not do this—it was a lot of work!
In 2010, Trump spoke about immigration in an interview with Larry King. Trump spoke about unauthorized immigrants from Mexico, and he said:
(at 2:00) “You have American interests hiring them, and in many cases they’re great workers. The biggest problem is that you have some great, wonderful people coming in from Mexico that are working the crops, they’re working, cutting lawns, they’re doing a lot of jobs that I’m not sure that a lot of Americans are gonna take those jobs, and that’s the dichotomy, that’s the big problem because you have a lot of great people coming in doing a lot of work….”
In 2013, Trump spoke to Newsmax TV and he mentioned that Mexico is a smart nation (at 11:24): “I hate seeing this country ripped off by every other smart nation. I say smart nation: China, India, Mexico.”
On April 12, 2014, at the Conservative Freedom Summit in New Hampshire, Trump again spoke about unauthorized immigrants from Mexico:
(at 13:00) “Now, you have to come up with a humane solution to people that have been here for many years and they’ve raised their children and all that and they’re productive people.” But he added that any others who are “bad” have to be removed from the U.S.
These three examples, from 2010, 2013, and 2104, show how Trump spoke about Mexicans before 2015. He said that Mexicans in the US are great people, very productive, great workers, and wonderful people. He said that the leaders of Mexico are smart. He said that a humane solution was needed for unauthorized immigrants who have been in the US for years. Still, “bad” people, criminals, have to be removed.
Yet on June 16, 2015, Trump made his campaign announcement in New York City, and said:
“When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. […] 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.”
Since he said: “They’re rapists,” some people inferred that he must have meant “All Mexicans.”
Trump promptly denied it. For example, on June 25, speaking to the Maryland Republican Party, Trump said:
“Here’s another thing that was terribly misconstrued, on purpose. I love Mexico. I love the Mexican people.” … “But I said, we need a strong border, I said, we need a wall…”
Also on June 25, Trump spoke in an interview with Telemundo, saying:
“I respect Mexico, first you have to understand: I love Mexico, I love the Mexican people, I love Mexico, I have tremendous relations with Mexico, tremendous relationships, frankly that’s very important to me, but I’m referring to people who cross this border, which is very porous…”
On July 23, Trump visited Laredo, Texas, speaking about his “great relationship” with Hispanics, and he replied to a reporter’s criticism that (at 0:40) “you said that the people across the border are rapists and murderers–”
Trump immediately interrupted and said: “No, no, no, we’re talking about illegal immigration and everyone understands it. And you know what? That’s a typical case, wait, that’s a typical case of the press with misinterpretation. [People cheer and applaud.] They take a half a sentence, by the way, they take a half a sentence then they take a quarter of a sentence, they put it all together [to lie], it’s a typical thing.”
On June 29, in an interview with Newsmax TV, Trump explained:
(at 6:10) “The bad people we should send back, and we should send them back fast. We have plenty of bad ones. We have some great ones, we have some wonderful ones, but we have plenty of bad ones. And the bad ones we should get out of here really fast…”
In a press release on July 6, he explained again:
“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. […] I have great respect for Mexico and love their people and their peoples’ great spirit.”
In Phoenix Arizona, on July 7, Trump said:
(at 20:20) “Again, I respect Mexico, but their leaders are too smart for our leaders, because we have stupid leaders.” …. “Mexico, I respect the country, [but] they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our manufacturing…” (at 23:30) “…my opening speech, when I announced I’m running for President, it wasn’t until five days later that people started saying: ‘Ooh, he said something, what?’ What they don’t say is they cut it in the middle of the sentence! They cut it! Because those people [pointing at reporters], many of them, not all, some are great, but many of them, are very dishonest people, meaning the press, very dishonest, very dishonest.” [People cheer]
On July 8, in an interview with NBC News, Trump said:
“I was so misquoted that it’s incredible. I’m talking about the Mexican government forces many bad people into our country, because they’re smart, they’re smarter than our leaders, and their negotiators are far better than what we have, like to a degree that you wouldn’t believe.” … “And by the way, I’m not; I have great relationships with the Mexican people, I have many people working for me. You can look at the job in Washington [the Old Post Office building], I have many legal immigrants working, many of them come from Mexico. They love me, I love them.
On August 14, at Hampton, New Hampshire, Trump said:
(at 20:15) “I love the Mexican people, they have tremendous spirit, tremendous spirit. You know, when I opened, as Rush Limbaugh said, who’s a great guy: ‘Trump has taken more incoming than any human being I’ve ever seen.’ And it was only because the press totally changed my statement. They used a half a sentence, they used a sentence from behind. It turns out I was right, because I was talking about illegal immigration…” “I have such respect for the leaders of Mexico and their negotiators, so I don’t dislike them.”… “With Mexico, I’ve hired, as an example, thousands, over the years, thousands of people have worked for me, from Mexico, and from lots of other places, they’re incredible people. But the problem is their leaders are smarter, and sharper, and more cunning than our leaders.”
In Dallas Texas, September 14:
(at 35:00) “Their sons and daughters killed by illegal immigrants. And it’s a massive problem. We have to stop illegal immigration, we have to do it.” [The crowd applauds and gives a standing ovation.] … And I want people to come into the country, but I want them to be legal, I want them to go through the process, I want them to come in, I want to have a big beautiful door, but they have to be legal…” (at 40:40) Then Trump complains that Mexican college students who graduate from the best schools in the U.S. can’t stay: “they send you back to Mexico. Those are the people we need. We need them in Silicon Valley. We need them in Manhattan, we need them in Dallas. We need them! Why are we throwing them out? They want to be in this country and we throw them out.” (at 46:30) “I love Mexico… They’re great people… But their leaders are smart.” (at 1:00:00) “Again, I love the people of Mexico, I respect the leaders But they’re too sharp. They’re too good!”
On September 15, in Los Angeles, California, by the USS Iowa Battleship, Trump said:
(at 1:37:50) “I love Mexico, I have many, many people, many, many people from Mexico that work with me…”
At the Oklahoma State Fair, on September 25, Trump insisted:
(at 3:15) “I love Mexico, I love the Mexican people… I love Mexico” (also at 49:00)
On October 8, 2015, in a speech at Nevada, Trump reiterated:
(at 7:20) “I love China. I love Mexico, I tell everybody, and I love the Mexican people, and I’ve said it a hundred times. Nobody ever says it, nobody ever reports it, that’s a problem. I love the Mexican people. I love the spirit of the Mexican people. I respect Mexico. The problem is their leaders are much smarter than our leaders. Their negotiators are much tougher than our negotiators. They’re much more cunning. And, they kill us at the border. People flow through like water. And they send people through, that they don’t want. Do you remember the old days with Castro when he emptied his jails and sent them all to the United States? Well Mexico does similar things, in a highly sophisticated and much more sophisticated manner.”
Again, in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 8, at Treasure Island, Trump said:
(at 6:40) “I just met with a whole group of Hispanics. And what Phil said, I really appreciate that, I didn’t know he was going to say that. But I’ve employed thousands and thousands, and currently, thousands of Hispanics, these are incredible people, incredible. My relationship is great. They did a poll, and everybody probably saw the poll, and I won with Hispanics in the state of Nevada. They’re incredible people, and I think I won for two reasons, but one of them is they know I’m gonna bring jobs back to this country” … “I have tremendous relationships with Mexico.” (at 45:00) after a Colombian female fan comes to the podium, he adds: “I love the Hispanic people.”
At Richmond, Virginia, on October 14, Trump insisted:
(at 14:15) “I love the people of Mexico, I love Mexico. They’re great people.” I have thousands and thousands of Hispanics working for me, thousands…”
At a rally in Miami, Florida, on October 23, Trump said:
(at 30:40) “I love the Hispanics. I have thousands of Hispanics, thank you, I love you too, I love you. It’s true. I have thousands of Hispanics working for me, all over, at this place, I have you know, eighteen hundred, nineteen hundred employees, many Hispanics, they’re unbelievable people, unbelievable workers, I love them, I love them, I love them. And they know, they’re smart, they know I’m bringing jobs back from China, from Japan, from all these countries…”
At Reno, Nevada, on October 29, Trump said:
(at 55:30) “and I love Mexico, and I love the Mexican people, and I love the Hispanics, I have thousands of Hispanics that work for me, right now.” Then Trump praises Hispanics for “enthusiasm”… “these are incredible people,” “I like Mexico.” Trump argued that immigration laws in the US have to be handled as in Mexico.
In Springfield, Illinois, on November 9
(at 7:00) “I love the Hispanics,” (11:40) “And I love Mexico, I love the Mexican people, I have thousands of Hispanics who work for me, tens of thousands over the years, they’re great people.”
On November 12, Trump spoke at a campaign rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa. He said:
(at 13:00) “People pouring across the border. Many, many great people. But some are really, you know, they’ve got problems. And tremendous crime.” …. “I love Mexico, I love the Mexican people, I have thousands of Mexicans; I have thousands of Hispanics who have worked for me…”
November 16, in Knoxville, Tennessee, Trump said:
(at 49:00) “we’re going to get rid of people that we have in this country who are here illegally, some of whom are excellent, great people, but they have to come back legally, they have to. They have to come back legally.”
At Columbus, Ohio, on November 23:
(at 1:11:30) “and I want people to come into the country, and so do you, but they have to come in legally!” [The audience cheers] (at 1:14:00) “ I love Mexico, I love the Mexican people…”
On November 24, at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:
(at 55:30) “I have a great relationship with Mexico. I have a great relationship with the Mexican people, I love them! They’re great people. The Hispanics are great people.”
On December 1, 2015, in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, Trump said:
(at 8:50) “I have great respect for Mexico, great respect for the Mexican people. I have thousands, over the years, thousands of Hispanics, Mexicans, but Hispanics have worked for me, they’re fantastic people. But in the case of Mexico, the country, they’re fantastic people …. the Hispanics are great people…”
On December 14, at another visit to Las Vegas, Nevada, Trump again said:
(at 39:40) “I love Mexico, just so you understand, I love the Mexican people,” …. “They’re fantastic people… Do we love Mexico? We love Mexico!” [The audience cheers in agreement.] “Their leaders are too smart, for our leaders… too smart, too sharp, too cunning…”
At Mesa Arizona, on December 16, Trump said:
(at 1:36:00) about Mexico… “and I like them”
On December 18, at an interview with Adam Corolla, Trump said:
(at 9:10) “they’re coming across from all over the southern border, we call it. And they’re coming across from all over, Adam, and Mexico is going to pay for the wall, Mexico is not helping us, and I love the people of Mexico, frankly, and I respect the leaders of Mexico, but they’re too smart for our leaders. Our leaders don’t know what they’re doing, not smart enough, not cunning enough. But the people of Mexico are, you know I have tremendous numbers of Hispanics working for me, and they love me, and I love them, I mean, the whole thing, but what’s happening with Mexico at the border is horrible…”
On December 20, 2015, at Wofford College, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Trump said:
(at 27:20) “…with great respect for Mexico, I wish our leaders would do the same thing, I have great respect for what they’re doing in Mexico, and I love the Mexican people. But they’re taking advantage of our people because they’re much better, smarter negotiators.”
Ok, enough! Summing up….
Multiple times Trump denied that he said or meant that all Mexicans are criminals. No matter how many times Donald Trump insisted that he did not mean what critics attributed to him, no mater how many times Trump praised Mexicans, many people continued to think that Trump was spreading hatred against Hispanics.
They ignored the fact that in June Trump was talking about “the border,” about what “border guards” tell him, that he specified that he referred to people who “Mexico sends” to the U.S., not “their best” people, and that “some, I assume, are good people.”
None of that mattered. He said “Mexico.” He said “rapists.” He said: “They’re rapists.” So he must have meant that every citizen of Mexico, even children, nuns, and the disabled, are all rapists. He must have meant that he hates Mexico, and hates all Mexican immigrants, even if they enter the country legally.
Many people insist: But Trump said: “some, I assume, are good people,” which must have meant that most Mexicans are rapists. He said, “I assume,” which must have meant that he thinks that they’re not good people. And so forth.
Critics always apply the worst possible interpretation and insist that that’s what he meant.
Never mind that the primary dictionary meaning of the word “some” is an unspecified number. Never mind that if you don’t personally know the unauthorized immigrants then your knowledge of whether they’re good or bad is an assumption.
On December 11, 2015, at MSNBC, Senator Bernie Sanders complained about Trump, saying: “Let’s blame all Muslims, or all Mexicans are criminals and rapists.” On December 19, at a debate of Presidential candidates, Senator Sanders again complained:
“And somebody like a Trump comes along and says: ‘I know all the answers. The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they’re criminals and rapists, we oughta hate the Mexicans those are your enemies!’”
Many people had decided that nothing Trump says matters except for the fact that he said: “They’re rapists,” which must have meant that every Mexican is a rapist. Nonsense.
Time and again, Trump’s statements about Mexicans could have provided material for positive news articles. For example, reporters could have written: “Trump Proposes that immigrant Mexican College Graduates Should Stay in the U.S.” But I saw no such news articles. Instead, news commentators preferred to repeatedly say that Mexicans are rapists, blaming Trump.
The surprising truth is that Trump praised Mexicans more often than any candidate running for President. Critics have never heard such statements. Or worse, they choose to imagine that every positive word is a lie, and that any word that sounds bad must be a symptom of the worst thoughts imaginable.
Alberto A. Martinez is a professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin.
Next, Chapter 6: The ugly words of Megyn, Donald, and Rosie