By David Shepardson
(Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump rebuked General Motors Co <GM.N> on Tuesday, widening his criticism of American companies that have invested in Mexico.
Trump has made criticism of Ford Motor Co <F.N> a staple of his campaign speeches for more than a year, repeatedly suggesting that the Dearborn, Michigan, automaker would back down from plans to expand in Mexico or face a 35 percent tariff on vehicle exports.
Trump also has criticized Carrier, a manufacturer of air conditioning units, which is owned by United Technologies Corp and Mondelez International Inc <MDLZ.O>, the owner of Nabisco, for shifting jobs to Mexico.
"I am fighting hard to bring jobs back to the United States. Many companies – like Ford, General Motors, Nabisco, Carrier – are moving production to Mexico. Drugs and illegal immigrants are also pouring across our border. This is bad for all Americans, regardless of their heritage," Trump said in a statement defending his comments about a Mexican-American judge overseeing civil lawsuits against Trump University. His view of an ethnically biased judiciary has drawn criticism, including from within his own party.
A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why Trump had decided to criticize GM.
GM spokesman Jim Cain declined comment on Trump's criticism.
In December 2014, GM said it was investing $5 billion in Mexico through 2018 - a move that would allow it to double its production capacity at its plants around the country. GM said in 2014 the investment would create 5,600 jobs in Mexico.
The Detroit News reported in May that GM plans next year to move some light-duty pickup production to the Flint Assembly Plant from Mexico, according to a memo from UAW Local 598 to membership.
Mexican auto production has been rising in recent years as numerous automakers expand operations.
Mexico produced 3.4 million vehicles in 2015, the seventh largest vehicle producer worldwide, and could surpass South Korea by 2020, producing more than 5 million vehicles, according to industry forecasts.
Ford has repeatedly rejected Trump's criticism and emphasized its significant U.S. investments and employment.
In April, Ford announced it would invest $1.6 billion to build more small cars in Mexico. In 2015, Ford said it would invest $2.5 billion in new engine and transmission plants in Mexico, creating 3,800 jobs.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Howard Goller)