Trump Assails Immigration Laws in West Virginia Tax Speech

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump revisited remarks he made about Mexican “rapists” crossing the U.S. border when he announced his run for president and assailed the nation’s immigration laws in a speech on Thursday that was supposed to focus on his tax law.

“Remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower, when I opened,” Trump said at a roundtable discussion on the December tax law in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. “Everybody said ’Oh, he was so tough.’ I used the word rape. And yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody’s ever seen before.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what he was talking about, but he appeared to be referring to a so-called caravan of Central American migrants that had been traveling through Mexico toward the U.S. border. The president has been tweeting about the caravan all week and had warned Mexico to interdict it before the migrants arrived at the border.

Republicans hope the tax law, which cut taxes for most American families while adding about $1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, will buoy their chances in November’s midterm elections. Trump’s trip to the West Virginia town was intended to promote the law in a state where his party believes it can win the Senate seat of Democrat Joe Manchin.

But instead of spending much time on taxes, Trump belabored the many grievances against immigrants and U.S. immigration law that he voiced during his campaign and into his presidency. He also repeated a false claim that millions of illegal immigrants vote in U.S. elections.

Litany of Complaints

He complained that babies born to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are granted citizenship at birth.

“If you have a baby on our land, congratulations, that baby is a United States citizen,” he said. No other country has such a policy, he said.

He complained of so-called “catch and release” rules on the border that allow undocumented immigrants to be released after being issued an order to appear before a judge.

“Nobody ever comes back,” he said.

He said “the military is going to be building some of” his proposed wall on the Mexican border. Dana White, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said at a briefing on Thursday that the military may improve a fence around a bombing range on the Mexican border.

“There is already some fencing there, but it has been identified as a possibility to reinforce it,” she said.

California Criticism

Trump criticized the mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaff, who he said warned undocumented immigrants in her community of an upcoming sweep by federal immigration enforcement agents.

“Many of them scattered, and it was pretty much a failure,” he said. “To me that’s obstruction of justice, and something should happen there. And it hasn’t, and I don’t know why it hasn’t.”

Trump repeated his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.

“In some places, like California, the same person votes many times,” he said. “Not a conspiracy theory, folks.”

As he wrapped up his immigration remarks, Trump held up a copy of his prepared speech.

“This was going to be my remarks,” he said. “This is boring.”

Tax Statements

Some of the things Trump said about taxes, meanwhile, were erroneous.

“Next April you’re going to, in many cases, one page, one card,” he said. “This is the last time you have to file a very big and complex tax form.”

Republicans had said before writing the law that they aimed to make taxes simple enough for many people to file a return on a postcard, but that didn’t happen. Other politicians in Trump’s party dropped the talking point.

He also touted efforts to soften financial regulations under the Dodd-Frank law for smaller and community banks. “We’re actually getting bipartisan support. Does anybody believe that? Maybe Joe won’t, but most people will,” he said.

The crowd applauded — as did Representative Evan Jenkins, a Republican challenging Manchin — at the dig at the incumbent senator. But Manchin voted for the bill, which passed the Senate 67 to 31 last month.

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