Fact-checking Donald Trump’s recent claims, from Mexico to San Francisco

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stirred further controversy with new claims that “tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border”.

Trump started the controversy with derogatory comments about immigrants from Latin America in his June 16 speech announcing his run for the presidency. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said.

He went on to say that it was not just Mexico sending drugs, rapists and criminals to the US, it was every part of South America “and it’s coming probably from the Middle East”.

Here we fact-check the businessman and TV star’s claims, which he says have been “deliberately distorted by the media”.

  • Are the people emigrating from Mexico to the US rapists and criminals?

First-generation immigrants have a significantly lower crime rate than that of the overall population, according to an analysis by University of Massachusetts-Boston sociologist Bianca E Bersani. The crime rate for second-generation immigrants, however, is higher, running just below that of the native-born population. Pew Research calls this “the dark side of assimilation”.

  • Are drugs, rapists and criminals coming from the Middle East to the US?

The US census does not presently include a category for people of Middle Eastern and north African descent, so estimates of numbers of immigrants from the Middle East vary, between 1.8-million and 3.7 -million.

This group is significantly more educated than the foreign-born population as a whole and the native-born population, according to the Migration Policy Institute . There is no indication that Arab Americans are contributing to a higher crime rate.

The Washington Post put together a list of other studies showing that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native-born population.

Trump himself followed his statement by saying: “But we don’t know.”

In his statement on Monday defending his earlier comments, Trump said:

San Francisco is considered a “sanctuary city” because of its liberal policy towards undocumented immigrants. Francisco Sanchez, the man accused of killing the young woman, Kathryn Steinle, had been deported from the US five times and did have a long criminal record. He said in a jailhouse interview that he kept returning to the US to find a job – but there is no indication that he was forced into the US by government officials in Mexico.

The reference to thousands of similar incidents could refer to a report by the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies saying that 36 007 convicted criminals were released by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in 2013. There is no data on whether those people went on to commit further crimes. Those that were released included 16 000 people with drunk-driving records and 193 people who had been convicted of homicide.

Mexico is the primary supplier of heroin to the US, according to the White House . It is also the main transportation route for cocaine to the US, though not the primary producer. The CIA said it is the largest supplier of marijuana and methamphetamines to the US.

While some Mexican immigrants do smuggle drugs, US citizens are also deeply involved in border drug operations. Four out of five drug busts by border patrol involve US citizens, said the Center for Investigative Reporting in a March 2013 report .

Doctors have repeatedly disputed claims that immigrants bring in infectious diseases from Mexico, which has a higher vaccination rate than the US.

Mexicans seem to think otherwise.

“If I had Donald Trump in front of me, I would call him a racist imbecile,” a Mexico City resident told the Guardian . “He thinks that because he has money he can say anything he likes.” – © Guardian News and Media 2015

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