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Fact-Checking Trump’s Speech
 External Link to Original Content

Trump does not accurately describe migrant children illegally brought into the United States

“Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States, a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs.” — President Trump

The Customs and Border Patrol does not track the number of migrant children brought over the border. Rather, it tracks the number of “family units,” which are defined by CBP as a minor apprehended with at least one family member or guardian.

In November 2018, CBP reported just over 20,000 family units were apprehended at the southern border. In other words, there could have been more than 20,000 children that were detained.

Further, Trump describes the children as “human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs.” But the number of suspected cases of fraudulent parentage is a fraction of the overall number of family units apprehended — in other words, in most cases tracked by CBP, the children are being brought in by their parents.

The Post’s Joshua Partlow and Nick Miroff reported that, between April 19, when the trend was first suspected, and Sept. 30, the end of the 2018 fiscal year, CBP agents separated 170 families after determining that the child and adult traveling together were not related. That equals about 0.25 percent of all family units apprehended.

Democrats had supported a fence at the border

Trump in his address said that Sen. Charles E. Schumer “has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected.”

Schumer, Hillary Clinton and many other Democrats voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized building a fence along about 700 miles of the border between the United States and Mexico. It passed 283-138 in the House, with 64 Democrat votes, and 80-19 in the Senate, with 26 Democrat votes.

But the fence they voted for is not as substantial as the wall Trump is proposing. Trump himself has called the 2006 fence a “nothing wall.”

‘266,000 aliens arrested in the past two years’: The number is right but misleading

It’s important to keep in mind that this figure includes all types of crimes, including nonviolent offenses such as illegal entry or reentry.

In fiscal 2018, ICE conducted 158,581 administrative arrests for civil immigration violations. The agency’s year-end report says 105,140 of those (66 percent) involved people with criminal convictions and 32,977 with pending criminal charges. Of the 143,470 administrative arrests in 2017, 74 percent involved people with criminal records and 15.5 percent who had pending charges.

So the numbers add up, but they’re misleading. The total covers all types of offenses, including illegal entry or reentry. ICE does not break down arrests by type of crime, but 16 percent of the total charges and convictions (not arrests) in 2016 were strictly immigration offenses.

The trade deal does not pay for the wall

“The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.” — President Trump

Trump often says the wall will be paid for by the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, a claim he repeated tonight.

This is a Four-Pinocchio claim. During the campaign, Trump more than 200 times promised Mexico would pay for the wall, which the administration says would cost at least $18 billion. Now he says the minor reworking of the North American Free Trade Agreement will earn enough money for pay for the wall. This betrays a misunderstanding of economics. Countries do not “lose” money on trade deficits, so there is no money to earn; the size of a trade deficit or surplus can be determined by other factors besides trade. Congress must still appropriate the money, and the trade agreement has not been ratified.

Most imported heroin comes through legal points of entry

“Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90% of which floods across from our southern border.” –President Trump

In 2017, more than 15,000 people died of drug overdoses involving heroin in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That works out to about 300 a week.

But while 90 percent of the heroin sold in the United States comes from Mexico, virtually all of it comes through legal points of entry. “A small percentage of all heroin seized by CBP along the land border was between Ports of Entry (POEs),” the Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2018 report. So Trump’s wall would do little to halt drug trafficking. Trump’s repeated claim that the wall would stop drug trafficking is another Bottomless Pinocchio claim.

There is no new crisis at the border

Apprehensions of people trying to cross the southern border peaked most recently at 1.6 million in 2000 and have been in decline since, partly because of technology upgrades, tougher penalties post-9/11, a decline in migration rates from Mexico and a sharp rise in the number of Border Patrol officers.

Customs and Border Protection reported 303,916 apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border for fiscal 2017, the lowest in more than 45 years. In fiscal 2018, apprehensions increased to 396,579, but that was less than half the total of 2007.

There are far more cases of travelers overstaying their visas than southwest border apprehensions. In fiscal 2016, U.S. officials reported 408,870 southwest border apprehensions and 544,676 suspected in-country overstays. For fiscal 2017, the Department of Homeland Security reported 606,926 suspected in-country overstays, or twice the number of southwest border apprehensions.

Categories Fact Check Politics Trump

Tags Oval Office Speech Trump Wall

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