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Trump’s Falsehood-Laden Speech on Immigration


Posted Updated
With Control of Congress at Stake, Trump Reprises a Favorite Theme: Fear Immigrants
Linda Qiu
, New York Times


“We’re not letting them into our country. And then they never show up, almost, it’s like a level of 3 percent. They never show up for the trial. So by the time their trial comes, they’re gone, nobody knows where they are.”


Trump was referring to the rate that migrants show up to immigration court proceedings after being apprehended and released into the United States. Data from the Justice Department shows that most immigrants do, in fact, show up to their court hearings.

In the 2017 fiscal year, about 28 percent of immigrants failed to attend their court hearings — not the 97 percent Trump estimated.

Among asylum-seekers, only 11 percent did not show up for legal proceedings. Of the asylum-seekers who participated in a pilot program tested as an alternative to detention, 99 percent attended Immigration and Custom Enforcement check-ins and appointments. And 100 percent turned up for court hearings.

The Trump administration ended the pilot program last June.


“We can’t get any Democrat votes to change them. It’s only the Republicans that are in unison they want to change them. They want to make strong borders.”

This is misleading.

Citing immigration laws that he said “are so bad,” Trump accused Democrats of causing overhaul legislation to fizzle in Congress. Left unsaid was that disarray among the Republican Party partly contributed to the bills’ demise.

In February, after Trump moved to rescind protections for the young immigrants known as Dreamers, the Senate rejected three immigration proposals. Fourteen Republican senators voted against the one that was backed by the White House; it received the least support from the president’s own party than any of the three.

After a public outcry over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy that resulted in migrant children being separated from their families after crossing the border, the House rejected a hard-line immigration bill in June that was backed by the White House. Forty-one Republicans voted against it.


“Nearly 100 percent of heroin in the United States enters through the southern border. Think of that, 100 percent almost of heroin comes in through the southern border, along with roughly 90 percent of cocaine and the majority of meth and a substantial portion of the ultralethal fentanyl killing our youth.”

This requires context.

Trump is right that most heroin smuggled into the United States enters through the southwest border, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s latest National Drug Assessment report.

Most fentanyl enters the United States from packages mailed directly from China, or through Canada from China, according to the report. Though “large volumes” of fentanyl are also smuggled through the southwest border, it tends to be less potent — and costs less — than the packages directly from China.

“We are miserably losing this fight to prevent fentanyl from entering our country and killing our citizens,” the president’s opioids commission reported last November. “We are losing this fight predominantly through China.”

The drug agency also noted that the “most common method” of drug smuggling used by criminal organizations is by driving through official American ports of entry — not a migrant caravan of people on foot.

In some of those vehicles, the drugs are kept in concealed compartments; in others, they are mixed among legal goods on tractor-trailers. Smugglers also use tunnels, passenger trains and buses, drug mules and even drones and other aircraft.


“The Democrat Party’s vision is to offer them free health care, free welfare, free education and even the right to vote.”

This is misleading.

Legal immigrants to the United States can receive some public benefits and have a pathway to citizenship and the right to vote. But that is a matter of law — not merely the political platform or policies of the Democratic Party.

Migrants who are granted asylum are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid and the Supplemental Security Income program. They are also eligible for the cash assistance program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Immigrants in the country illegally are not eligible for most public programs and cannot vote. While a 2013 Senate bill to overhaul the immigration system would have allowed unauthorized immigrants who had arrived in the United States before December 2011 to apply for citizenship, the House never voted on the legislation. Trump’s own “four pillars” for immigration reform also included a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.


“Nobody talks about that, but under President Obama, they separated children from the parents.”

This is misleading.

As The New York Times has reported, previous presidential administrations did break up families — but did so rarely, according to former officials and immigration experts. The Trump administration, by contrast, has knowingly enacted the practice that some officials have characterized as a deterrence against illegal entry.


“And once that control is set and standardized and made very strong, including the building of the wall, which we’ve already started. $1.6 billion spent last year, $1.6 billion this year. We have another $1.6 that will be coming, but we want to build it at one time.”

This is misleading.

A spending bill signed by Trump in March allotted $1.6 billion for projects to replace old barriers along the border with new ones. But that bill did not allow spending funds on a new border wall.

Trump signed another spending bill in late September, which did not include any money for his border wall — a fact he seemed aware of, given his criticisms over the lack of funding.

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