Donald Trump again puzzles Baltimore officials with claim of immigrant gangs

Donald Trump claims immigrant gangs are a big issue in Baltimore. City says no.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump believes there are gangs of immigrants roaming the streets of Baltimore causing problems, and he voiced that opinion once more during Wednesday night's Republican debate on CNN.

The claim was swiftly rebuffed in Baltimore, just as it was when Trump first made it during a news conference in Iowa last month.

CNN moderator Jake Tapper started off Wednesday evening by asking Trump about his contention that he would deport every undocumented immigrant in the United States if he were elected to office, despite suggestions from other candidates, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, that doing so would be impossible given that there are millions of undocumented immigrants in the country.

Trump said he would indeed deport those millions, first by building "a wall that works." He then said he would also target the "really bad dudes in this country from outside."

"They go, if I get elected, first day they're gone. Gangs all over the place. Chicago, Baltimore, no matter where you look."

The comment mirrored Trump's comments in Iowa.

"You know a lot of the gangs that you see in Baltimore and in St. Louis and Ferguson and Chicago, do you know they're illegal immigrants?" Trump asked in that state. "They're here illegally. And they're rough dudes. Rough people."

Howard Libit, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, did not sound surprised Trump had repeated the claim, but disputed it again just the same.

"I'm not sure where Mr. Trump gets his data from regarding our gang issues here in Baltimore," Libit said. "We certainly have significant issues with gangs, but I have not seen any evidence that our gang problems are fueled in any substantial way by undocumented immigrants."

"We have prided ourselves here in Baltimore on welcoming immigrants," Libit said. "We think they are an important and growing segment of our population and contribute greatly to job creation and expanding the diversity of our neighborhoods."

Many of Baltimore's recent gang-related arrests have involved local Baltimore residents involved in the Black Guerilla Family gang, and city law enforcement officials have not spoken of undocumented immigrants as a problem in the city's crime fight or its gang culture.

krector@baltsun.com

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