Donald Trump Falsely Claims Migrants Travel Through Mexico 'Like It's Walking Through Central Park'

Despite signing an executive order Wednesday halting family separations at the border caused by his own administration's policy, President Donald Trump continued to go on the offensive over immigration Thursday. As well as assailing Democrats, Trump also attacked Mexico in extreme and, in many cases, false terms, including claiming that Central American migrants walked up through Mexico to the United States border like they were "walking through Central Park."

"Mexico, by the way, is doing nothing for us," Trump claimed during a Cabinet meeting. "Nothing. They have the strongest immigration laws. They can do whatever they want. They can keep people out of Mexico. You have a 2,000-mile journey up Mexico. They walk through Mexico like it's walking through Central Park. It's ridiculous. Mexico does nothing for us."

Trump went on, citing his stance on NAFTA: "One of the reasons I'm being tough is because they do nothing for us at the border. They encourage people, frankly, to walk through Mexico and go into the United States because they're drug traffickers, they're human traffickers, they're coyotes. I mean, we're getting some real beauties."

The comments, which echo Trump's labeling of Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and criminals when he announced his bid for the White House three years ago, were made without evidence and contradict numerous evidence to the contrary.

Indeed, in April Trump tweeted praise for Mexico after the country helped break up a migrant caravan which began with as many as 1,500 people but reached the U.S. border with around 200.

"The Caravan is largely broken up thanks to the strong immigration laws of Mexico and their willingness to use them so as not to cause a giant scene at our Border," Trump wrote.

The Caravan is largely broken up thanks to the strong immigration laws of Mexico and their willingness to use them so as not to cause a giant scene at our Border. Because of the Trump Administrations actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 5, 2018

Mexico, like the U.S., has taken a more hardline approach with immigrants in recent years. The country initiated a Southern Border Plan in 2014, since which it has sent more than 500,000 Central American migrants, who are often fleeing gang, domestic and political violence, back to their home countries.

Even ignoring immigration laws, for migrants, the trip through Mexico is one fraught with danger. Nearly 70 percent are victims of violence, while more than 30 percent of women have been sexually assaulted on their journey, according to a 2017 report from Doctors Without Borders.

At least 2,300 children were forcibly separated from their parents as the result of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy toward those who cross the border illegally.

Mexico migrants
A migrant mother, who is waiting to seek asylum for herself and her two daughters in the U.S., poses with them next to their belongings in a migrant shelter for women and children on June 20, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. Mario Tama/Getty Images