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20 of Trump’s Biggest Border Lies Will Have Your Head Spinning

20 of Trump’s Biggest Border Lies Will Have Your Head Spinning

Donald Trump's wall rhetoric is a lie

Donald Trump has had a lot to say about why he’s sure the United States needs a wall across the southern border. In the past month, his rhetoric regarding the border shared with Mexico has accelerated, with the government shut down and a steady flow of tweets, interviews, and statements — all full of disinformation.

An audience listening to Trump and taking him at his word would see a border that is unprotected from the most dangerous terrorists, gang members, sex traffickers, and criminals of every kind, with drugs and weapons pouring through, and a lot of Democrats shrugging it off because they’d rather let Trump be hurt by bad press than protect Americans from imminent danger. The problem with that view, however, is that very little Trump says about the border holds even a grain of truth.


What follows are twenty of Trump’s claims about the border, and why you shouldn’t believe any of them.

Border crossings are reaching, or have reached ‘crisis’ levels. It’s getting worse.

Trump likes to tweet numbers that give the appearance of increasing numbers of dangerous criminals crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S. The tweet below, for example, throws out large numbers, like 292 thousand crimes, and 539 murders. However, he admits even here that he’s describing an 8-year period.


Without more context, there’s no telling whether those numbers suggest that, now, in 2019, things are better or worse than in past years. Fortunately, there are real statistics available, without the president’s misleading spin. The Washington Office on Latin America has them here.

Those stats say that illegal immigration is down — with 2018 representing the 5th lowest number of migrants apprehended at the border in 45 years, and the number of adults traveling without families at an even greater decline: “…almost certainly the second-lowest total since 1970.”

Terrorists are coming through the southern border.

“We have terrorists coming through the southern border because they find that’s probably the easiest place to come through,” Trump claimed in a January 4th statement.


This is a lie that the U.S. State Department already addressed, issuing a statement denying it outright.

At year’s end there was no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States. The U.S. southern border remains vulnerable to potential terrorist transit, although terrorist groups likely seek other means of trying to enter the United States.

Drugs are ‘pouring in’ through unprotected areas.

Trump claimed in his briefing January 4th that drugs aren’t being brought through ports of entry, but slipped across the border, where a wall would stop them.

“Remember drugs. The drugs are pouring into this country. They don’t go through the ports of entry. When they do, they sometimes get caught.”

He also tweeted last week about deaths by heroin in the United States, asserting that the border wall would stop a lot of them.


Truth: The Drug Enforcement Administration’s own report (PDF) says that only a small percentage of heroin enters the U.S. between ports of entry.

The majority of the flow is through POVs entering the United States at legal ports of entry, followed by tractor-trailers, where the heroin is co-mingled with legal goods.

Gangs are flooding into the U.S. across the border and would be stopped by the wall.


Truth: One of the problems with this claim is that the Trump Administration has used the term ‘gang member’ so loosely that, according to the ACLU, a detention facility refused to hold immigrant teens who were accused of gang affiliation with insufficient evidence, and a judge ordered the Trump Administration to turn over any evidence used to justify their arrest. An attorney for the ACLU says evidence used has been as flimsy as the teens play-fighting with friends or expressing pride in their birth nation.

Sex traffickers are bringing victims across open areas. The wall would offer protection to victims.

“[Sex traffickers transporting victims will] drive that van or the car not through a port of entry, where we have very talented people that look for every little morsel of drugs, or even people, or whatever they’re looking for. Not going to go there. They get off the road and they drive out into the desert, and they come on, they make a left turn. Usually it’s a left, not a right.”

Truth: It’s not really clear how much the wall might affect sex trafficking. According to NBC, the Department of Homeland Security was unable to offer assurances that a wall would help. Further, Dottie Laster, a human trafficking expert who, as execuditve director for the Heidie Search Center, has spent more than a decade helping sex trafficking victims, says that

Dottie Laster, executive director of the Heidi Search Center in San Antonio, Texas, and a human trafficking expert, says that the plan misses some key points — such as the fact that trafficking victims are taken both ways across the border. Even though she expresses support for the wall in hopes that it might help, even a little, she believes determined traffickers will find a way.

The ultimate problem is that sex traffickers prey on people who are vulnerable for reasons such as language barriers and fear of law enforcement — and much of the Trump Administration’s way of addressing immigration could exacerbate those concerns, making victims who escape fear arrest or deportation if they seek aid.

The ‘caravans’ are made up of criminals attempting illegal entry.



Truth: The Trump Administration has offered no evidence that these migrants, traveling in groups, are criminals. Further, as the Washington Post reported back in October, the majority of migrants joining such a caravan intend to apply for asylum, by the legal processes.

Though there are currently fences and barriers along portions of the border, these can’t be effective because they are not continuous.

“A little piece here, a little piece there, put a piece where we need it, the people just go around it.”

Truth: Obviously the fact that there are illegal border crossings confirms that some immigrants do cross in places where there is no barrier. However, something that needs to be understood is that a lack of wall or fence doesn’t equate to a lack of obstruction altogether. As USA Today reports, the parts that are fenced or walled are those areas most accessible by car or foot. Much of the rest has natural barriers, such as mountainous terrain or rivers that make crossing difficult. A lot of it is also private property — the government would have to seize land from current owners to make it available for wall construction. Further, even this territory isn’t just free for the crossing — it’s protected with drones and other technology (the stuff that’s more modern than cement and steel).

Undocumented migrants are dangerous criminals, as demonstrated by their presence in the prison population.


Truth: Here again, Trump is using numbers to mislead. Why would he specifically address only immigrants in the Federal prison system, and skip state statistics? Why isn’t he naming the alleged crimes?

Oh. Here’s why:


Getting the wall completed is urgent, worthy of declaring a national emergency.

Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency if Congress doesn’t legislate his $5.7 billion dollars for a wall into their budget.


Truth: However, for the past two years, with a Republican-majority House and Senate, Trump didn’t seem to consider it enough of an emergency to call for this action. He’s still only floating the emergency idea as a possibility if he doesn’t get his way — which doesn’t exactly demonstrate the urgency of a true emergency.

Moreover, Trump slipped on Saturday and tweeted the truth about the urgency of the wall and why he has shut down the government: because it was a campaign promise.


The wall is already being built, and the results are good.

Trump claimed on Friday that a new section of wall had just been completed and that the ‘fake news’ is lying by denying that the wall is being built as we speak.


Truth: Did Trump miss the date on that photo, placing it more than three months earlier? It doesn’t really matter since it’s also not new or a wall. Fact Check covered it last April, noting that the money allocated for barriers on the southern border is specifically for repairing current structures and adding some fencing.

Democrats are fighting against the wall because they want…what?

Trump has a number of conflicting claims about what Dems want: He says they supported a wall until he promised one, that they want open borders, and that they’re only fighting the wall to hurt his 2020 campaign.

Truth: Democrats and Republicans in Congress have allocated funding for border security, and voted on bills that include plans for security and enforcement of immigration laws. This would seem to defy any claims that an entire party is against border security altogether.

While it’s true that Democrats have supported physical barriers, nothing like Trump’s proposed wall — crossing private property, destroying current structures, and somehow passing through natural barriers — was not part of the plan.

Democrats are refusing to negotiate, and went on vacation instead of discussing a deal.

Trump has repeatedly indicated that Dems, especially Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, are not meeting with him to make a deal, with an emphasis on the absence of some Congressional Democrats from Washington over the weekend.



Truth: There have been meetings between Trump’s team and Democrats. As recently as Jan 6, Trump himself was characterizing these talks as ‘productive,’ but only a few days later, admitted (while denying that he had responded angrily) that he walked out of another talk as soon as he heard a ‘no.’



In his own words, Trump is the one walking away from meetings.

Past U.S. Presidents want the wall.

“This should have been done by all of the Presidents that preceded me. And they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it,” Trump claimed in his January 6th address.

Truth: All four living ex-presidents have released statements denying this claim, according to Vox.

See Also

America wants the wall.

Time reports that Trump declared earlier this month, speaking of the wall, said, “You can call it a barrier, you can call it whatever you want….The people of our country want it.”

Truth: A Quinnipiac poll last month shows 54% of Americans opposed to the wall. Even more, 62%, oppose shutting down the government over a border wall, and over half blame Trump for the shutdown.

There is a humanitarian crisis at the border.

Trump has started to mix his language up somewhat, going from decrying an ‘invasion’ at the border to using the term ‘humanitarian crisis.’

Truth: This one isn’t so much a lie as a bait-and-switch. The humanitarian crisis and the percieved problems that Trump hopes to solve with a wall are two different problems. When we speak of a humanitarian crisis at the border, most of us mean children separated from their parents, and applicants for asylum waiting interminably. What Trump means is still the same thing he meant before he used those words: There are immigrants trying to enter the country.

The problem with this is that by adopting the more liberal term, he leaves the impression that all those on the left who have expressed concern for the humanitarian crisis are agreeing with him about the problem, and only disagreeing about the solution.

We must be clear here: The humanitarian crisis that Democrats are expressing concern for is not the same as the ‘invasion’ Trump is claiming.

Mexico will pay for the wall.

Trump has claimed from the beginning that Mexico would pay for the wall.

Truth: Despite these claims, Trump is now demanding that taxpayers pay for the wall. Furthermore, he’s now claiming that Mexico will pay through a slightly revised trade deal.


According to Politifact, experts say this isn’t true either — that the new trade deal can’t be seen as bringing any new or increased revenue to the United States.

The border is basically a horror scene.

To hear Trump speak, one would think the border looks like a scene from the next Purge movie.

“I just got back. It was a sight to behold. Not pretty. Very dangerous.”

Truth: The Washington Post addressed this perfectly last year, responding that the border “is [very dangerous] — but not for Americans.” In fact, they went on to cite statistics showing that 21 out of 23 counties on the border with Mexico have lower crime rates than average and that undocumented immigrants actually commit crimes at a lower rate than the average population.

The wall is ‘common sense;’ anyone should be able to see it’s necessary.

Trump has said that the wall is common sense, that the country has to have it, and that only criminals could oppose it.

Truth: In fact, even anti-immigration groups are starting to be concerned about Trump’s obsession with this wall. The New York Times cites a few such groups:

The Center for Immigration Studies (an anti-immigration think tank) executive director Mark Krikorian says, “I’ve always thought it created a danger that he would trade almost anything in order to get the wall — I think that’s still a potential danger. I’m still worried about that now.”

Numbers USA, a conservative org that seeks to reduce both legal and illegal immigration into the U.S., has called for Trump to focus on requiring employers to use E-verify, making it harder for undocumented immigrants to find work, instead of making a wall his sticking point.

Even Ann Coulter has complained that Trump is focused on the wall to the exclusion of other, more effective, means of handling immigration.

Making the border tough will scare immigrants out of trying to come here.

In October, Time reported on Trump’s remarks on the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. “If they feel there will be separation, then they won’t come.”

Truth: Maybe Trump isn’t lying in this case so much as honestly unaware. However, as WOLA explains, fear of what they may find here isn’t enough to stop families from fleeing for the hope of safety.

“The conditions spurring these waves—violence, poverty, poor governance—are not ebbing, other than a modest decline in homicide rates. The most that crackdowns and tough talk have done is put Central American children’s and families’ flight “on pause” for a few months before, out of necessity, it resumes again.”

A border wall will stop a significant percentage of illegal immigration.

Trump keeps implying that undocumented immigrants are coming in a flood across the border.

Truth: The majority of immigrants in the U.S. illegally didn’t sneak over the border. They entered the country legally — whether over the border or by plane — and then, when their visa documents expired, they simply didn’t leave. According to NPR, more than twice as many immigrants are estimated to have overstayed their visas as were apprehended at the border, and visa overstays outnumbering illegal border crossings has been the case since 2007.

The truth about immigration into the U.S.

There is absolutely work to be done on the United States’ immigration policy, and protecting the border and screening entry isn’t new. However, the current crisis is one of harm and danger to immigrants, not to the current residents and citizens of the country, and President Donald Trump is using misleading statistics, jargon, and rhetoric, and outright lies to cloud that fact.

It’s possible for Democrats and Republicans to reach agreements on immigration control, asylum, and border security. However, it’s probably going to require the president to be a little more honest with the public, and more willing to negotiate with those he sees as his political opponents.

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