Trump Delivers Speech Full of Inaccuracies


By Brian Tashman

On Tuesday night, President Trump will address the nation in a primetime speech in which he’ll make his case for a 1,000-mile border wall, followed by a trip to South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley on Thursday.

But Trump’s characterization of the situation on the southwest border is driven not by facts but by his own nativist agenda and political obsession with building a wall. In advance of the speech, here are some things you might hear, fact-checked.

Lie 1: Border crossings are at or near an all-time high.

Border crossings are at some of the lowest levels in decades. Trump and his aides fabricate facts and spread misinformation in order to justify many of the president’s false claims about the border, even though the Department of Homeland Security itself reports differently. The Border Patrol’s own statistics show that the number of migrants apprehended at the border last year was the fifth lowest total since 1973.

While the Trump administration has repeatedly cited increased migration from Central America as a national security-based justification for the wall, a majority of these migrants are families and unaccompanied children who voluntarily present themselves to immigration authorities. Indeed, the average Border Patrol agent is apprehending fewer than two people per month, and about 60 percent of these migrants are families and children.

Lie 2: Terrorists are entering the country through the southern border, creating a national security crisis.

Many of the migrants at our southern border are refugees from violence with a right to apply for asylum in the United States. Many are families with young children or children alone. There is no evidence that any terrorist group is sending people through Central America.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was recently called out for making false claims about thousands of supposed terrorists attempting to enter the country through the U.S.-Mexico border. The Justice Department confirmed to NBC News that “no immigrant has been arrested at the southwest border on terrorism charges in recent years.”

Lie 3: The wall would stop gang members.

The Trump administration has claimed that a wall is needed in order to stop gang members from coming into the U.S., but many of these migrants are in fact fleeing gang violence and recruitment in their home countries. We have also seen a pattern where government officials have wrongly labeled young migrants as gang members with false and unsubstantiated claims, hyping the threat of groups like MS-13 and threatening the rights of innocent young people.

Trump is raising the spectre of gangs to spread harmful stereotypes about immigrants, distort and invent numbers of alleged gang members apprehended at the border, and punish the very people who are most affected by gang violence.

Lie 4: The wall would stop drugs from pouring in through the border.

The president likes to suggest that construction of a border wall will help bring an end to drug addiction problems in America.

However, the clear majority of illegal drugs, including opioids, enter through legal ports of entry, and a wall would have no impact on the use of passenger vehicles, boats, planes, and tractor trailers that are primarily used to smuggle drugs.

Lie 5: We need a new wall. 

There are over 650 miles of existing border barriers. A report by the Government Accountability Office found that Trump’s ill-conceived wall plan would waste billions of dollars and might “cost more than projected, take longer than planned, or not fully perform as expected.”

Congress has already approved almost $2 billion to fortify existing border barriers since 2017, and border communities and local officials have protested Trump’s plans for a 1,000-mile long wall.

It is also unlikely that new barriers will reduce migration, the project’s purported aim: A recent study by Stanford and Dartmouth economists found that the addition of hundreds of miles of border barriers as a result of the 2006 Secure Fence Act barely had any effect on migration. Our recent report, “Death, Damage, and Failure,” details the harms resulting from border walls. The name sums up how destructive and unnecessary Trump’s wall is: We can’t let him and his administration lie and extort their way to building any of it.

Members of Congress know that neither the facts nor the public are on his side. A majority of Americans are opposed to Trump’s border wall follies, including his disgraceful and futile push to use a government shutdown to force Congress into giving him billions of dollars in new wall funding.

Congress should continue to reject demands for wasteful border wall funds and instead vote on pending bipartisan measures to reopen the government.

Brian Tashman is a Political Researcher and Strategist for the ACLU

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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10 thoughts on “Trump Delivers Speech Full of Inaccuracies”

  1. Matt Williams

    Although technically not a lie, when Trump laid out his case about the connection between drugs and immigrants he cited the 300 people a week who die from heroin overdoses.

    The Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2017 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (The CDC) shows that Heroin overdoses are part of the 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017, which was 9.6% higher than the rate in 2016.  But it also shows that Heroin overdoses are less than one third of the opiod overdose deaths. The drug overdose deaths from Pharmaceutical Synthetic Opiods most notably Oxycontin and Fentanyl is the real problem, as shown in the CDC graph below.
    One has to wonder why President Trump isn’t looking to build a wall around the manufacturing locations of the Pharmaceutical Synthetic Opiods that are killing twice as many people in the US as Heroin is?

    1. Craig Ross

      It seems like Trump’s comments are at best outdated – he doesn’t understand the nature of these problems.  Also – people smuggle drugs into prisons, they’re going to get drugs if they want them.

  2. Matt Williams

    Here is another CDC graph with numbers attached …

    Heroin overdose deaths in 2017 = 15,958 (306 per week) 22.7% of the opiod overdose deaths

    Synthetic Opioid overdose deaths in 2017 = 29,406 (565 per week) 41.9% of the opiod overdose deaths

    Other non-Heroin manufactured and natural Opiod overdose deaths in 2017 = 14,958 (287 per week) 21.3 % of the opiod overdose deaths

    Methadone overdose deaths in 2017 = 3,295 (63 per week) 4.7% of the opiod overdose deaths

    Drug overdose deaths in 2017 involving Synthetic Opiods combined with Heroin = 6,620 (127 per week) 9.4% of the opiod overdose deaths

  3. John Hobbs

    Last nights bee ess session was a misdirection. Trump is without scruples and bathed in narcissism. He will kill children, court foreign despots, play fast and loose with our service members’ lives, shut down the government, put hundreds of thousands of workers’ and contractors’ lively hoods and lives in jeopardy and slander the best and finest law enforcement officers in the world all to feed his ego and cover his crimes.
    We need to end this cynical Howdy Doody show and send [edited: him] away, for good.

  4. Alan Miller

    The problem here is Trump isn’t totally wrong and neither is the person discrediting Trump — who isn’t claiming ALL, just some.  Everyone needs to get real or it’s just two opposites yelling each other into stalemate for another few decades while satisfying their respective political sheeple and solving nothing.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I think the problem is that the Democrats don’t want a wall, Trump wants a wall, and the Republicans don’t want to cross Trump (yet).

    1. Jim Hoch

      One of the most dramatic inaccuracies is the line “the very people who are most affected by gang violence”. The people “most affected by gang violence” are other gang members. While bystanders are hurt by gangs in all countries gang members are far more likely to be hurt by gang violence than bystanders. 

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