Billionaire mogul Donald Trump announced his presidential bid on June 16, and included in his speech were comments about illegal immigrants bringing crime, drugs, and being “rapists,” which pushed Trump into the spotlight, both as a presidential candidate, and as the developer of the latest Trump Hotel in Washington D.C., which has employed undocumented workers in its construction process.
According to a report from the Washington Post, at the site of the Old Post Office Pavilion in D.C., five blocks from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, Trump is funding the construction of a $200 million hotel. Several of the workers building the hotel told the Post that they came to the U.S. through immigration programs from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, while others “quietly acknowledged that they remain in the country illegally.”
In his speech, Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” instead they’re sending people that “have lots of problems” who are “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some I assume are good people.”
“It’s something ironic,” Ivan Arellano, a worker and immigrant from Mexico who became a U.S. citizen through marriage, told the Washington Post. “The majority of us are Hispanics, many who came illegally. And we’re all here working very hard to build a better life for our families.”
Daniel Gonzalez, a sheet metal worker who came to the U.S. in the 1980s from El Salvador and became a U.S. citizen when a judge granted him asylum, told the Post that he is worried about the possibility of Trump’s comments escalating “into a bigger problem,” that could lead to workers like him losing their jobs.
“Do you think that when we’re hanging out there from the eighth floor that we’re raping or selling drugs?” asked Ramon Alvarez, a window worker from El Salvador. “We’re risking our lives and our health. A lot of the chemicals we deal with are toxic.”
Michael Cohen, executive vice president and legal counsel to Trump, told the Washington Post that Trump followed all of the guidelines for hiring and that when he hired Lend Lease as a contractor for the project, it became that company’s “obligation to check all workers on site.”
Trump released a statement on Monday, clarifying his comments and acknowledging the fact that he has “lost a lot during this Presidential run” because of his comments on Mexican immigrants.
Following the comments, several major companies cut ties with Trump, including Univision, NBC, Macy’s, Serta and NASCAR. Trump said that these companies appear to have “taken the weak and very sad position of being politically correct even though they are wrong in terms of what is good for our country.”
In his statement, Trump reiterated his position, and said that the Mexican Government is “forcing their most unwanted people into the United States” and that they are “in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”
Trump used the example of Kate Steinle, a woman in San Franciso who was killed over the weekend when she was shot in what appeared to be a random bullet that allegedly came form the gun of an illegal immigrant and felon who had been deported to Mexico five times before.
“This is merely one of thousands of similar incidents throughout the United States,” said Trump, who claimed that his initial comments were “deliberately distorted by the media.”
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