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Fact-checking Trump's immigration speech

As the hours tick down to the critical midterm elections, President Donald Trump continues to focus attentio...

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 8:55 AM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 8:55 AM

As the hours tick down to the critical midterm elections, President Donald Trump continues to focus attention on immigration, casting it as a threat and a cost to American taxpayers.

In a speech on Thursday afternoon, he made a series of assertions about a group of Central American migrants traveling north together in a group toward the US-Mexico border. Some expected Trump to announce new policies on asylum, but instead he hit on many of the same tropes that have been mainstays of his presidency. We dug into a handful of his claims to check their veracity.

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Latin America

Mexico

North America

Political Figures - US

The Americas

Undocumented immigrants

United States

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Deportation

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Government organizations - US

Human rights

Human rights violations

Human trafficking

Justice departments

Politics

Slavery

US Customs and Border Protection

US Department of Homeland Security

US federal departments and agencies

US federal government

White House

Border control

International relations

National security

Territorial and national borders

The President estimated the number of people trying to cross the border illegally

Claim: The President said "every day above and beyond our existing lawful admission programs, roughly 1,500 to 2,000 people try crossing our borders illegally."

Fact-check: This is unclear.

Available Customs and Border Protection data shows a total of 396,579 people were apprehended by the US Border Patrol for FY 2018 at the southwest border, which would mean an average of 1,087 each day. The numbers differ each month. The highest number of apprehensions of individuals crossing the border illegally was in September, with a daily average of nearly 1,400.

Historically, CBP has used apprehensions as a measure of illegal crossings.

If the President is also including the 124,511 individuals deemed inadmissible for entry to the US at lawful ports of entry, the average over the court of the year would be just over 1,400 a day.

The President talked about violence breaking out between the caravan and Mexican police

Claim: The President said "it's like an invasion. They have violently overrun the Mexican border. We saw that two days ago ... they have overrun the Mexican police, and they have overrun and hurt badly Mexican soldiers."

Fact-check: This claim is partially true but misleadingly seeks to smear a group of thousands with the actions of a few.

CNN has reported that there were clashes between one group of migrants and Mexican forces on Sunday.

"While this group continues its journey, other large groups of Central American migrants are following in their footsteps -- including another group of about 3,000 people who reached the Guatemala-Mexico border on Sunday. The situation quickly spiraled out of control," according to CNN en Español correspondent Michelle Mendoza, who reported from the scene. Migrants threw rocks and sticks. Mexican forces threw tear gas. In the clashes, a 26-year-old Honduran national, Henry Adalid Díaz Reyes, ended up dead, according to the Guatemalan Attorney General's Office. Authorities are investigating. Several other migrants and police officers sustained minor injuries. Mexican Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete condemned the violence, stating that "aggressors" had arrived armed with Molotov cocktails. "The only way to enter Mexico is following immigration laws," he said."

The President said Mexico has offered asylum to some members of the caravan.

Claim: "Mexico has agreed to take them in and encouraged them to stay, but they don't want to stay. They want to come into the United States, so this is no longer safety, and asylum is about safety."

Fact-check: This is misleading.

CNN has reported some migrants traveling with the caravan have applied for asylum in Mexico.

"Under a plan dubbed 'Estas en tu Casa' (You're at Home), officials said migrants of working age could apply for asylum and would be eligible for certain jobs -- provided they stay in Chiapas or Oaxaca, two southern Mexican states. The migrants are currently in Oaxaca, hundreds of miles from the US border and likely weeks -- or even months -- away from any attempt to cross it. Even before Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's announcement, more than 2,700 migrants from this large group had filed paperwork seeking asylum in Mexico, and hundreds had voluntarily agreed to return to their home country. But thousands more kept heading north."

The President claims the military is putting up thousands of tents to hold migrants

Claim: The President said, "We're putting up massive cities of tents. The military is helping us incredibly well with. I want to thank the Army Corps of Engineers. They have been so efficient, so good, so talented, we have thousands of tents. We have a lot of tents."

Fact-check: This is misleading.

A US defense official speaking on background says there are no plans as of now to build tents for migrants. While the administration has housed unaccompanied children in Tornillo, Texas, the President appears to be talking about tents currently being constructed. On Tuesday, the general in charge of Northern Command, General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, said for "'Operation Faithful Patriot' as it sits right now, the request that we have from Department of Homeland Security and CBP is to build tents to support CBP personnel and our military personnel."

The President talked about how infrequently undocumented immigrants show up for court proceedings after they are released from US custody.

Claim: "We're not letting them into our country, and they never show up. Almost like a level of 3%. They never show up for the trial, so by the time their trial comes, they are gone."

Fact-check: Trump is giving the false impression that undocumented immigrants "never" show up for court proceedings after they're released from US custody. Through June of this year, 26% of deportation cases were decided in absentia, without the immigrants present, according to the latest statistics from the Justice Department. That means about three-quarters showed up for their hearings. Even the Trump-friendly Center for Immigration Studies noted that most immigrants showed up for court proceedings in 2017.

The President talked about the number of non-citizens in the country going through certain immigration proceedings.

Claim: "There are now nearly 700,000 aliens inside the United States awaiting adjudication of their claims."

Fact-check: This claim is essentially true.

Justice Department statistics show that in 2018 there are 786,303 pending cases with the Executive Office of Immigration Review, the Justice Department body that adjudicates these claims. According to Justice Department, the statistics include removal, deportation, asylum and several other categories of cases.

The President talked about the scourge of human trafficking, linking it to illegal immigration.

Claim: "Human trafficking is now at the highest level in the world that it's ever been."

Fact-check: It is difficult to discern if this is true, in large part because Trump's claim covers all of human history. More than 40 million people are in "modern slavery," according to United Nations figures from 2016. These victims are involved in forced labor, sex trafficking and forced marriages -- shameful practices that disproportionately affect women. They may or may not have been transported across national borders, and may not be considered immigrants (undocumented or otherwise) -- though undocumented people are especially vulnerable to being trafficked.

The Trump administration has touted its efforts to root out the problem by stepping up prosecutions and supporting legislation to combat online sex trafficking. (On a related note, Trump's comments ignored perhaps the most significant human trafficking episode in history. From the 1500s through the 1800s, as many as 30 million Africans were captured and sold as part of the transatlantic slave trade, according to UN estimates.)

The President gave the impression that the federal government is already starting to build the border wall that he has made a signature priority.

Claim: "... 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 [billion] that will be coming but we want to build it one time."

Fact-check: This is misleading. While he's right that $1.6 billion was approved by Congress, this is only a fraction of the $25 billion in requested funds, and the money has mostly gone to repairs, not new construction. By claiming that construction is already underway, Trump appears to be taking credit, as he has in the past, for a project that Customs and Border Protection has been requesting for years and is entirely separate from his well-known proposal to build a wall along the full length of the southern border.

In San Diego, the federal government is replacing 14 miles of a 46-mile border fence with a stronger wall, but only about half has been replaced so far, according to a CBP spokesman.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 473413

Reported Deaths: 9214
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32339474
Hinds30703575
DeSoto29814346
Jackson23263336
Rankin21111358
Lee14600217
Madison14043265
Jones13165218
Forrest12953233
Lauderdale11418297
Lowndes10249175
Lamar10048128
Pearl River8737209
Lafayette8078136
Hancock7324111
Washington6837147
Oktibbeha6820118
Neshoba6404201
Monroe6372158
Warren6326161
Pontotoc610393
Panola6071124
Bolivar6016143
Marshall5972118
Union564086
Pike5491133
Lincoln5232130
Alcorn520888
George457868
Scott451993
Leflore4401140
Prentiss437276
Itawamba436198
Tippah436180
Simpson4268111
Copiah425586
Wayne424863
Tate4234100
Adams4219114
Yazoo415886
Sunflower4088104
Covington407391
Marion4032100
Leake393185
Coahoma388198
Newton364474
Grenada3517101
Stone345657
Tishomingo324888
Attala321185
Jasper310262
Winston300391
Clay288273
Chickasaw282164
Clarke277487
Calhoun259739
Holmes259485
Smith243947
Yalobusha216747
Tallahatchie215649
Walthall205557
Greene204045
Lawrence203831
Perry196453
Amite193751
Webster191941
Noxubee174538
Montgomery169853
Jefferson Davis165541
Carroll159937
Tunica148434
Benton139433
Kemper137439
Claiborne125634
Choctaw124925
Humphreys123337
Franklin115227
Quitman101825
Wilkinson99835
Jefferson86632
Sharkey62120
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 768301

Reported Deaths: 13209
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1093481727
Mobile699891179
Madison48418589
Baldwin35707452
Shelby35193291
Tuscaloosa33029512
Montgomery32582664
Lee21908204
Calhoun20140377
Morgan19351318
Etowah18583433
Marshall17272259
Houston16139353
St. Clair14956276
Limestone14129180
Cullman14069235
Elmore14010245
Lauderdale13128272
Talladega12399215
DeKalb11890229
Walker10231312
Autauga9493127
Blount9418149
Jackson9115136
Coffee8646161
Colbert8324169
Dale8284159
Escambia6456106
Tallapoosa6394168
Covington6313157
Chilton6243133
Russell591654
Franklin563597
Chambers5240132
Marion4628115
Dallas4626178
Clarke451471
Pike450091
Geneva4252106
Winston407987
Lawrence4046102
Bibb396177
Barbour338968
Marengo320981
Monroe311547
Butler309783
Pickens298769
Randolph294055
Henry293856
Hale286081
Cherokee279850
Fayette272271
Washington243545
Crenshaw232265
Clay221561
Macon214454
Cleburne209748
Lamar187839
Conecuh177139
Lowndes169056
Coosa163631
Wilcox154335
Bullock147142
Perry134235
Sumter123335
Greene119241
Choctaw72325
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Occasional areas of rain and some scattered thunderstorms will be in store for most of the weekend. However, good news by later sections of next week, as cooler and drier air will work its way into our weather forecast.
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