Fact Check: Media claims that Trump is anti-immigrant

This morning on ABC’s This Week, Univision‘s Jorge Ramos once again claimed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called all Mexicans “rapists.” It’s a theme often forwarded by opinion reporters, as well as supposedly unbiased journalists. Other common narratives include that Trump is “racist,” “anti-immigrant,” “anti-Muslim,” “anti-Hispanic,” and “anti-Mexican.”

For his part, Trump claims to be pro-immigration and says he loves Hispanics and Muslims.

One can take issue with the accuracy of many statements made by Trump and other presidential candidates, both Democrats and Republicans. But in this instance, journalists are claiming to know what’s in the candidate’s heart and mind, and are stating their opinions as if it’s fact. Are the portrayals of Trump by news reporters accurate?


The news media often conflates illegal immigration and legal immigration, as if they are one in the same. But for the sake of accuracy, the distinction must be noted. The nation is split on many immigration questions yet decisive on the general issue of illegal immigration: in a CBS News poll, 84% of Americans viewed illegal immigration as a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem. In other words: most Americans support legal immigration and oppose illegal immigration. That’s the same view Trump has expressed.

Is it fair for the press to call Trump (and, by implication, 84% of Americans) “anti-immigrant” for opposing illegal immigration, while supporting legal immigration?

The media makes a similar conflation when it comes to Trump’s remarks about criminal illegal immigrants in the U.S. Referring to illegal immigrants from Mexico, Trump stated, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” On another occasion, Trump said he was not only singling out illegal immigrants from one country. “I’m not just saying Mexicans, I’m talking about people that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they’re coming to this country.”

On these points, Trump’s statements are factually indisputable, according to the Obama administration’s own figures. For example, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that 2013 and 2014 alone, it set loose in the U.S. more than 66,500 illegal immigrant criminals who had been arrested in the U.S. for additional crimes and had over 166,000 convictions among them: 30,000 for drunk or drugged driving, 414 kidnappings, 11,301 rapes or other types of assaults and 395 homicides. In a fairly short time period, ICE reported 2,423 of those illegal immigrant criminals had already been rearrested and convicted of new crimes in the U.S.– including felonies and gang offenses. These are difficult statistics to face, but there’s no reason to doubt the Obama administration’s veracity in providing them. Yet, the news media do not accuse the Obama administration of being “anti-immigrant,” “racist,” “anti-Hispanic” or “anti-Mexican” in reporting these statistics. Is it fair to use those pejoratives against Trump when he refers to the trends?

Further, the press often ignores or dismisses Trump’s own pro-Mexican statements as he repeatedly differentiates between illegal immigrants and legal immigration, and states that not all illegal immigrants are criminals. For example, referring to illegal immigrants, after Trump stated, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he added, “And some I assume are good people.” He has also said of Mexicans: “The good people come, and they’re great people. They’re better than good people. I love the Mexican people. They have tremendous spirit. They have tremendous vibrance and life,” and “Many fabulous people come in from Mexico and our country is better for it…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.”

The case of Muslims is less clear. Trump has singled out Muslims in advocating for a temporary ban on immigration into the U.S. Does that qualify him as being unequivocally “anti-Muslim,” as the press often states? That may be a matter of opinion. But Trump has not advocated to remove or ban Muslims who are already in the U.S., and has stated that his proposed temporary immigration ban would be with the goal of resuming Muslim immigration once screening deficiencies acknowledged by the FBI can be corrected. “I love the Muslims. I think they’re great people,” Trump has said.

While media portrayals might have one believe Trump holds fringe anti-immigration views, polling consistently shows a majority of Americans often align with his views on key issues. A Rasmussen Reports survey last month found sixty-one percent (61%) of voters think the government is not aggressive enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally, consistent with surveys of years. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of voters who consider border control to be more important than providing a pathway to citizenship believe that providing that pathway for illegal immigrants will just encourage more to come illegally. Most voters continue to believe the current policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the U.S. illegally. Most also continue to oppose President Obama’s plan to exempt millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. Seventy-two percent (72%) believe the federal government is not aggressive enough in finding those who have overstayed their visas and sending them home.


Because he singled out Muslims for a temporary immigration ban, it’s fair to question whether Trump has expressed some anti-Muslim-immigrant views. But fair reporting is obliged to include the context that Trump has said the ban would be temporary; and that he has not proposed action against all Muslims, against Muslims already in the U.S. or against Muslim Americans; and he has stated that he loves–not hates–Muslims. The public can draw its own conclusion.

On other key points: Trump is correct when referring to some illegal immigrants as “rapists” and “murderers.” Many in the media lampoon his statements without acknowledging that they’re factually correct, and they allow others to incorrectly characterize Trump’s comments, unchecked.

Trump distinguishes between legal and illegal immigration, supporting the former and opposing the latter, as do most Americans. The press often advances a false narrative as if there’s no distinction.

Finally, Trump’s mother was an immigrant, his ex-wife is an immigrant born in Czechoslovakia, his current wife an immigrant born in Slovenia, and his children are children of an immigrant parent. It’s difficult to rationally claim Trump is anti-immigrant. It would be accurate, however, to state that he’s anti-illegal-immigrant.

Trump’s opponents and critics are generally free to offer their opinions as to his leanings. However, reporters have jumped onto the opinion bandwagon at times, making mischaracterizations that are contrary to the evidence. To advance an agenda, the press seeks to falsely equate protecting the U.S. border with being anti-immigration. Regardless of how reporters personally feel about Trump, it’s important that they remain true to the facts in order to preserve the integrity of journalism.

For failing to do so, these cumulative claims about Trump are given Two Little Devils.





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16 thoughts on “Fact Check: Media claims that Trump is anti-immigrant”

  1. Unfortunately most of the media are not professional journalists. Most are very liberal and do not report honestly and objectively. I’ve listened to Trump and I find him to be honest and refreshing and surely not concerned with being politically correct; what you see is what you get. He may not say things as “cute” as other politicians but he is not a politician. He clearly is concerned with the security and well being of the country.

    As I’m sure you know, Univision and Ramos are supporters of Hillary Clinton (as well as ABC, CBS, NBC). FYI, I am of Hispanic/Latino heritage.

    Sharyl again great reporting. It would be good for the country if all journalists were as professional as you are. Politicians of both parties need to be kept honest for the system to work and for the benefit of the country.

  2. “This morning on ABC’s This Week, Univision‘s Jorge Ramos once again claimed Republican presidential candidate Donald Drumpf called all Mexicans “rapists.” It’s a theme often forwarded by opinion reporters, as well as supposedly unbiased journalists.”

    Sorry, Sharly. I don’t mean to contradict your “investigative reports,” but unless a broadcast can altered a person’s speech, I am damn sure I heard he said “Mexicans are rapists.” I am not for and against, but sometimes, people like me don’t read, we hear for ourselves what he had to say and so we heard.

    Then again, I don’t expect some people to understand, just the same as I don’t expect “terrorists” to understand that bombing another person doesn’t make things right. One thing this world is not lacking is blind faith but the world is seriously lacking of wisdom.

    I fear the worst, my friend. If the purported time traveler (whose identity never established, btw) turned out to be true, then the few thing he said may just come true if certain person who is inadequate to handle relationships, both domestically and internationally, takes on the ‘world’s most power person’ role. You can dismiss me as a tin foil hat wearing geek. You’re probably right. All I know is nothing in this world is absolute and hence, nothing can be proven to be non-existence (such is in the case of time travelling and aliens) until we can show it really doesn’t exist. Remember when the time where humans thought the earth was flat? Yeah. We didn’t know, we assumed.

    Anyways, back to the TT. He said certain country did a first strike on U.S. soil (clearly a lack of diplomatic charisma). War broke out and somehow, the country was in ruin and much was destroyed. Then civil war broke out as people struggle to reconcile with what happen and debate on how their way of live should be. Many things were lost, including important historic objects and hence, TT and a few was task to bring them back from the past. The year was around 2030+

    But actual bomb that dropped was much earlier. 2030 was when the nation was pulling herself together.

    I have to clarify that what I have wrote was just off my memory. If you think time travelling is unbelievable, well, you are not the only one. I am too, at times. With technology moving at breakneck speed, it may be plausible. e.g. 1960 a 5MB hard drive takes up 16 square feet of space. Tell the technologists at that time that you could have a 16TB hard drive without spinning disks. They’d say you are insane. I am sure you know what I am getting at. Peace. Be wise.

  3. Links to sources for those ICE figures would be helpful. Fact-checking should always include citations. As it is your breakdowns don’t match your stated toatals.

    1. That’s because many illegal immigrants committed more than one crime. ICE did not post the figures so there is no link. However, ICE provided them to Congress. Other news articles have been written but no links to ICE figures since they did not post them.

  4. And on the Muslim issue, remember he said, “Until we know what the hell we are doing.” Or something like that. At present, we don’t.

    Trump isn’t anti-immigrant. I don’t think we should call foreign nationals in the country immigrants of any kind. Most want to come and go rather than assimilate. I recall not nearly as many sought citizenship through IRCA 1986 as had been anticipated. I also recall there was a great deal of fraud.

    If you look at Inspectors General pages across the federal bureaucracy, you will be amazed at the number of foreign nationals defrauding everything from Medicaid to IRS. Our leaky accountability with $1 trillion in taxpayer money as well as our generous welfare handouts (mainly via children) are also magnets.

    Did you know the fraud is so bad HHS even has a Most Wanted List? I did a freelance piece on that last year.

  5. Excellent article. I’m glad someone credentialed is writing about this. I mention this all of the time on The Hill and other places and the website editors often remove my comments (I’ve had more than a dozen comments removed in the last 48 hours).

    The only thing I’d amend is your rating. Instead of only two, I’d give the media’s claims that Trump is anti-immigrant Three Little Devils. Six, actually.

    Putting aside that his highly controversial anti-illegal immigration stance is about upholding the law, we have to remember that 90% of the media is owned by six corporations.

    What do you bet people representing the brass of these companies all got in a room—illegally I might add—and discussed how to destroy Trump’s candidacy in the media?

  6. I’m very sorry to see you covering Trump’s back on this. He’s a loud mouth self promoter with ZERO consideration that words have meaning. His public slurs are rants expected of an 11 yr old or a senile old man.

    Instead of saying that we should temporarily halt all refugee immigration from certain countries of origin, Trump dangled the red meat (pork?) by saying all Muslims. That it is not practical to determine religion is beside the point, he just wanted to inflame the situation by highlighting Muslims.

    Regarding illegal immigration, Donnie decided to bleat using inflammatory verbiage and see if anyone bit. Quite funny coming from a long time Amnesty Queen who as recently as 2012, berated Mitt Romney for being too tough on illegal aliens.

    Sorry Sheryl, but your attempt to defend this narcissistic carnival barker just took you off my list of credible non-raging Liberal journalists.

  7. One would also wonder just how accurate those figures from the Obama administration are? I wouldn’t be surprised if the are cooking the numbers on crime downward as much as they think they might get away with. Wouldn’t be a new behavior for them. Thank you again, Sharyl.

  8. Last year when Trump repeatedly said he believes vaccines cause autism, and that he won’t back down about it, I did think “Pharma is going to do their utmost to keep him out of the Whitehouse.”
    I was certain they would mobilise their considerable assets in the media and blogosphere to this end. Perhaps even that was an understatement. Everyone I talk to is so sold on the storyline that Trump is the devil, they won’t even entertain that even some small part of it may be contrived. Glad to see a commentator I respect pointing out the (deliberate) misrepresentations. If he does make office, vaccines and autism are going to go up like a powderkeg.

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