The Washington Post
By Katie Mettler
January 17, 2019
President Trump has a new favorite anecdote, one that fixates on tape.
Specifically, in public remarks at the White House, at the border and at farming conventions, the president has been talking about tape on the mouths of migrant women. On at least eight occasions over a period of 12 days this month, the president has argued publicly for his proposed wall on the southern border by claiming without evidence that traffickers tie up and silence women with tape before illegally driving them through the desert from Mexico to the United States in the backs of cars and windowless vans.
In Trump’s telling, the adhesive is sometimes blue tape. Other times it is electrical tape or duct tape.
In some instances, the descriptions are more salacious and graphic. “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,” the president said in the Cabinet Room on Jan. 11.
With an eerie specificity, Trump has characterized these acts as commonplace.
Yet human-trafficking experts and advocates for immigrant women have said they are perplexed by this increasingly repeated story in Trump’s repertoire — and are at a loss for where he got his information. It was not from them, they say; in fact, they have no idea what he is talking about.
“His representation of how traffickers get their victims into the country just isn’t what we’re seeing,” said Evangeline Chan, director of the Immigration Law Project at Safe Horizon. “It is very, very different.”
No prominent news reports have detailed a case that matches the president’s description.
Since Trump took office two years ago, he has made more than 7,645 false or misleading claims, according to The Post’s Fact Checker database, more than 1,000 of which were about immigration.
But those who spoke with The Post did not rule out the possibility that there are female trafficking victims near the border who have been bound or gagged. They were also careful to make clear that they could not speak for what others, such as law enforcement officials, may have told the president.