President Trump has been telling stories about immigrant women who have been bound and gagged — sometimes with “blue tape”– by traffickers as they’re driven across the U.S-Mexico border. The narrative is frightening and the president has reportedly told these stories in chilling detail.
“Human trafficking — grabbing women, in particular — and children, but women — taping them up, wrapping tape around their mouths so they can’t shout or scream, tying up their hands behind their back and even their legs and putting them in a back seat of a car or a van — three, four, five, six, seven at a time,” Trump said in the Cabinet Room earlier this month, as reported by the Washington Post.
The Toronto Star reports that the president told a similar tale at the American Farm Bureau on Monday. At that appearance, he told his audience that these women do not come through legal ports of entry “because you’d see them.”
But some immigration experts are saying that these stories do not paint an accurate picture of how most illegal immigrant women enter the United States. The tales also don’t match leading news stories on immigrant experiences in recent memory, the Post notes.
“I think his statements are completely divorced from reality,” said Ashley Huebner, associate director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center in an interview with the Post. “That’s not a fact pattern that we see.”
The Star says that they spoke to six experts to verify Trump’s stories about “taped-up women.” Each of them said that they had never encountered an immigrant woman that had gone through that experience. They pointed out that most “illegal immigrants” come to the U.S. through legal ports of entry and overstay their visas.
“Either he’s watching action films or he’s watching some other type of movie that involves handcuffs and tape over people’s mouths. But in neither case is it based in any reality of what individuals helping trafficking victims see,” said Lori Cohen, director of the Anti-Trafficking Initiative at Sanctuary for Families.
Kidnappings by traffickers do happen but they are very rare, the experts noted.
One advocate for immigrant women admitted that some Mexican women may have been bound and gagged and thrown into vehicles en route to the United States. It’s just that she had never encountered a woman who had been a victim of that.
“I think that all President Trump is doing is pushing a wall,” said Edna Yang assistant executive director of American Gateways, a Texas-based immigration nonprofit. “A wall is not going to stop individuals fleeing to the United States when home conditions are terrible.”