The XX Factor

Republicans Can’t Stop Comparing Immigrants to Rapists

A boys shows a US flag as President Barack Obama speaks on immigration in El Paso, Texas.  

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

It’s estimated that 60,000 to 80,000 unaccompanied and undocumented minors will cross the border seeking sanctuary from violence and adversity, a number only exceeded by the number of tales told by right wing politicians and pundits of the unspeakable horrors that these children supposedly bring with them. Along with disease and general sadness, apparently migrant children are also going to bring rape. 

“Our continued existence is at risk with what’s going on at the southern border,” exclaimed Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, during a House speech on Tuesday where he accused the Obama administration of causing the influx of new immigrants, many of whom are children, by being too lax with border security. “And they’ve committed at least 7,695 sexual assaults. You want to talk about a war on women? This administration will not defend the women of America from criminal aliens! By the thousands, and hundreds of thousands!”

In a CNN segment on the immigration crisis Tuesday, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota exclaimed, “My heart is broken for a female college student in Minnesota who was raped, murdered and mutilated by a foreign national who came into our country.”

Florida Republican Rep. Rich Nugent also shared these statements on WOCA radio on Monday, saying, “Listen, if you’re 14, 15, 16, 17 years old, and you’re coming from a country that’s gang-infested — particularly with MS-13 types, that is the most aggressive of all the street gangs — when you have those types coming across the border, they’re not children at that point.” He added, “These kids have been brought up in a culture of thievery. A culture of murder, of rape. And now we are going to infuse them into the American culture. It’s just ludicrous.”

None of these politicians had any actual evidence to suggest that migrants are coming into this country to rape us. In fact, migrants trying to get into the country are often victims of sexual violence themselves, with many of them enduring sexual assault at the hands of “coyotes” who are paid to smuggle them into the country. Many of the young girls are trying to escape being repeatedly raped and forced to be non-consenting girlfriends to members of gangs. If any of these politicians were actually concerned about rape, or the culture of rape that Nugent points to, they’d be demanding political amnesty for people running away from gang violence.

It’s particularly despicable to see Bachmann and Gohmert use this cudgel. Both of them voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. If only they could turn even an ounce of concern they have over the imaginary rapes being perpetuated by immigrants towards the real rapes happening every day to women of every race and immigration status.