FACT CHECK: Donald Trump’s case for the border wall had a number of questionable claims
U.S. President Donald Trump laid out his case for a border wall along America’s southwest border on Tuesday — and made numerous claims that warrant more scrutiny.
Trump claimed, among other things, that the border is facing a crisis — a claim questioned by academics.
WATCH: Trump says border wall will be ‘steel barrier’ not concrete
The president also said the wall will be paid for indirectly through a trade deal that the U.S. has reached with Mexico — that too has come under question.
Claim: ‘I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.’
Trump finds agreement with Democrats that there’s a humanitarian crisis at the southern border — but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has charged that it’s the president’s doing.
The idea that there’s a security crisis along the southern border is questionable given that there are fewer apprehensions now than there were a decade ago.
University experts on immigration told Global News in November that they don’t believe there is a crisis at the border.
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Claim: ‘We have requested more agents, immigration judges and bed space to process the sharp rise in unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy.’
A strong correlation has, indeed, been found between the U.S. economy and undocumented immigration — but it doesn’t tell the whole story to suggest a “sharp rise” has happened.
Unauthorized migrant apprehensions are considered a strong metric for measuring border security.
These numbers are “usually positively correlated to the flow of unauthorized immigrants,” according to a Congressional research report.
There were 123,228 total apprehensions and inadmissibles along America’s southwest border between October and November, according to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).
That represents an increase from the previous two months, which saw just under 98,000 apprehensions and inadmissibles.
However, even when several apprehensions or inadmissibles are noticed in a couple of months, they don’t necessarily set a trend for a year.
There were just over 130,000 apprehensions and inadmissibles in the first two months of the 2017 fiscal year, but the annual total was 415,517 — the lowest in a five-year period.
WATCH: Chuck Schumer accuses Trump of ‘manufacturing a crisis’
Claim: ‘Every day customs and border patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country.’
Agents may observe thousands of undocumented immigrants trying to enter the United States on a daily basis.
The latest numbers around apprehensions, however, don’t suggest that thousands are making it in every day — at least when you looking at figures concerning the southwest border.
There were 396,579 apprehensions at America’s southwest border in the 2018 fiscal year — that makes for daily apprehensions of just over 1,000.
There were fewer apprehensions in the 2017 fiscal year — 303,916, which averages out to just over 800 per day.
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Claim: ‘Every week 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border.’
Trump is right that 90 per cent of heroin sold in the U.S. comes from Mexico — but the vast majority comes through legal points of entry.
The Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2018 report that only a “small percentage” of heroin seized along the U.S.-Mexico border came between ports of entry.
This suggests that Trump’s border wall would do little to halt the flow of heroin from Mexico to the U.S.
Claim: ‘Sen. Chuck Schumer… has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president.’
Schumer was indeed among several Democrats, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which called for fencing along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.
However, the fencing built under that act was nowhere near as comprehensive as Trump’s plan for a 1,000-mile-long concrete wall, and Trump himself stated as such during his presidential campaign.
In a Nov. 25, 2016 appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Trump dismissed the 2006 legislation as “such a little wall” and “such a nothing wall.”
Claim: ‘At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall.’
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Nancy Pelosi, denied outright that the Democrats requested this, according to CBS News.
WATCH: Vice President Mike Pence — ‘We have a crisis’ at the border
Claim: ‘In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings.’
The numbers add up but they don’t quite tell the whole story.
There were just over 266,000 arrests of “immigration violators” over the past two years, according to the 2018 annual report by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
However, those arrests covered a wide range of offences in the 2018 fiscal year.
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Those offences included driving under the influence, dangerous drugs, traffic offences, immigration and assault.
Research by the Brookings Institution has shown that immigrants to the U.S. are “considerably less likely than natives to commit crimes or to be incarcerated.”
That same research has shown that offering legal status to unauthorized immigrants can also bring crime down.
“This is associated with improvements in immigrants’ employment opportunities and a corresponding increase in the opportunity cost of crime,” it said.
Unauthorized immigration, Brookings added, “does not seem to have a significant effect on rates of violent crime.”
Claim: ‘Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the U.S., a dramatic increase.’
Customs and Border Patrol hasn’t publicly posted data showing how many migrant children were brought into America in December.
If the number is 20,000, however, that would indeed represent a “dramatic increase” — it would nearly match the total family units that were apprehended at the southwest border in October and November.
“Family units” refer to individuals that the U.S. Border Patrol apprehends with a family member.
In November alone, 25,172 family units were apprehended, along with 5,283 unaccompanied children.
There were 51,856 total southwest border apprehensions that month.
Meanwhile, in October, there were 23,115 family units apprehended, alongside just under 5,000 unaccompanied children.
All told, there were 51,001 total southwest border apprehensions that month.
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