Donald Trump, having already infamously characterized Mexican who cross the border as criminals and rapists sent to by their government to pillage America, last week lumped another immigrant group in the same category: Cubans.
Trump told a conservative radio host that Mexican immigrants today are like Cuban exiles who arrived on Florida shores during the Mariel boatlift in 1980.
"If you remember, years ago, when Castro opened up his jails, his prisons, and he sent them all over to the United States because let the United States have them," Trump said in the interview, first reported by BuzzFeed News. "And you know, these were the many hardcore criminals that he sent over. And, you know, that was a long time ago but essentially Mexico is sending over."
He then went on to cite the death of 32-year-old woman in San Francisco, shot apparently at random by man who had previously been deported five times to Mexico.
The same day, fellow GOP presidential candidate and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul made a similar comparison in a Fox News interview. Though Paul didn't explicitly say Mexicans today are like Cubans in 1980, he used the boatlift as an example of why municipalities today should be banned from restricting their cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
"Remember when the Marielitos were dumped here by Cuba? These were criminals," Paul said. "He emptied his jails, and he just dumped them on us. You want immigration services that work for the federal government to be able to ferret out are criminals being released in to the community."
Fidel Castro's government shipped prisoners and mentally ill patients on Mariel, mixed in with other refugees, and some Cuban exiles who had arrived in previous decades derided the Marielitos, in 1980 and to this day. But Cuban Americans are also fiercely defensive of their community -- and many of the people who immigrated in the boatlift are now voters and parents of voters. Will Trump and Paul -- if they make it that far -- make the same comparison in South Florida?