Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested on Friday that the U.S. government was intentionally “letting people” into the U.S. to influence the election.
He made the comments during a meeting at Trump Tower with five members of the National Border Patrol Council, according to a campaign pool report. Trump and Art Del Cueto, a vice president of the border patrol agents’ union, criticized the U.S. government for not doing enough to crack down on illegal immigration.
“It’s much easier if you just let people come in,” Trump said while praising the work of border agents. “Your jobs are much easier. But you love our country. … You know many people are coming in with criminal records.”
Del Cueto said he spoke to several agents in charge of processing people crossing the border illegally.
He said some of the people apprehended at the border have known criminal records but were being set “aside, because at this point they are saying immigration is so tied up with trying to get the people who are on the waiting list to hurry up and get them their immigration status corrected.”
After Trump asked why this was happening, Del Cueto replied, “So they can go ahead and vote before the election.”
“Big statement, fellas,” Trump said, concurring with the claim. “That’s huge. … They’re letting people pour into the country so they can go and vote,” he continued.
People living illegally in the U.S. are prohibited from voting in federal elections.
Trump has repeatedly offered conspiracy theories about the election supposedly being “rigged” against him. In August he said at a rally, “I’m afraid the election is going be rigged, I have to be honest.” That same month he also predicted that the only way he would lose Pennsylvania, a Democratic-leaning state, “is if cheating goes on.”
“Go down to certain areas,” he told his supporters then, “and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.”