Donald Trump's comments on Mexican immigrants have been widely discounted as the ravings of an attention-starved man.

They've cost him deals with NBC Universal, Univision, Macy's and Ora TV.

But since he first broadcast his hatred during the June 16 announcement of his run for president, Trump's polling numbers have seen him shoot to second place among more than half a dozen men vying for the GOP nomination.

Only Jeb Bush, who's married to a Mexican-American woman, fared better. And many conservatives, including fellow contender Ted Cruz, have supported Trump's remarks. He speaks the truth, many in the red-state world are saying.

But does he? Let's examine some of Trump's comments, starting with the latest:

“Eighty percent of Central American women and girls are raped crossing into the U.S.”

This could be true. It's based on a Fusion investigation last year that found “a staggering 80 percent of Central American girls and women crossing Mexico en route to the United States are raped along the way.”

However, the story notes that reporters came to that figure based on the estimates of “directors of migrant shelters.” This is third-hand information that's not exactly scientific. It's not unbelievable, either.

But then, you have to ask, what does that have to do with Mexican immigrants who come to the United States? Nothing, really, unless you ask Trump. Someone did, and he said, “Well, somebody's doing the raping.”

ADDED at 11:56 p.m., Friday, July 2: One recent study—albeit with a questionably small sample size, found that nearly one in five female college freshmen in the United States reporting being the victims of rape or attempted rape.

The federal government says that, overall, about one in six American women have been victims of rape or attempted rape.

“They’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our manufacturing and they’re taking our money … Mexico is killing U.S. on trade.”

It's true that the United States has a trade deficit with Mexico, but let's parse the facts. Mexico “buys more U.S. products than any other nation except Canada,” says a report from the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute. 

The report notes that because of “production sharing” (such as TVs assembled just across the border in Tijuana), “a full 40 percent of the content in U.S. imports from Mexico is actually produced in the United States …. This means that 40 cents of every dollar spent on imports from Mexico comes back to the U.S., a quantity 10 times greater than the four cents returning for each dollar paid on Chinese imports.”

Another report claims, “U.S. exports to Mexico are growing faster than imports from Mexico.”

And note that this Los Angeles Times series found deplorable conditions on Mexican farms that export produce to the United States. These are jobs that could have employed Mexican immigrants (many undocumented) in the United States, sure. But they're not exactly an example of trade success.

If anything, the Times found a sad example of Mexican job creation of the type that could, in better conditions, prevent emigration.

“They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.”

Those were the words, about Mexican immigrants (not even just ones who come here illegally), that really set off the critics.

First let's just ponder whether  illegal immigration deserves the spotlight it's getting. PolitiFact looked at the numbers and concluded, “Net illegal immigration from Mexico has fallen to zero.”

The Great Recession and tightened security, with the Obama administration funding more boots on the border than any other White House, are credited by experts for the decline.

Multiple studies have found that those who cross into the United States illegally are not more likely to commit crime. The Immigration Policy Center summarized its analysis of some of the research available:

Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are not associated with higher rates of crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the undocumented, regardless of their country of origin or level of education.

“When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best.”

We're not sure exactly what Trump means by that, but multiple reports and studies have found that those here illegally generate a positive economic impact.

Here'a how The New York Times put it:

There are many ways to debate immigration, but when it comes to economics, there isn’t much of a debate at all. Nearly all economists, of all political persuasions, agree that immigrants — those here legally or not — benefit the overall economy.

You can add that all up and come to your own conclusions about Trump's views on Mexican immigration.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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