Mike Huckabee Is Wrong About Immigration Court, And Statistics Prove It

Mike Huckabee is wrong. That’s not a partisan statement at all — he’s simply factually wrong in this case, and statistics prove it. He tweeted Saturday to declare that anyone who believed an immigrant released at the border would appear for their court date must not be “smarter than a 5th grader” — but in fact, anyone who can read data and statistics would absolutely conclude otherwise.

Mike Huckabee caught in immigration lie
[Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images]

Huckabee tweeted Saturday, comparing illegal or undocumented immigration to fishing. He suggested that the practice of giving an immigrant a court date and releasing them, rather than holding them in custody, was like catching a fish, releasing it, and expecting it to meet you at the dock later.

Huckabee may not believe it, but Vox reported on a study last year showing the opposite.

“About 99 percent of asylum seekers who were not detained or who were previously released from immigration custody showed up for their hearings over the last year, according to new data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University…Studies from previous years have also disproven the idea that most migrants will choose to live in the US without authorization rather than see their immigration cases through.”

Huckabee is far from the first to parrot this lie, though. When Vox published the piece linked above, they were responding to Donald Trump’s detainment policies, and the repetition of the same false claim as justification.

A year before that, Human Rights First did a fact check of the same lie, noting variations. Trump’s administration claimed that only 2-3% of asylum seekers returned for hearings, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is cited as saying that a majority fail to show up.

Data from the Department of Justice from the previous year (2018) showed 98% of released asylum seekers returning for their court dates, and Human Rights First shared additional data proving that numbers rise when legal representation is available, and are particularly high for mothers with dependent children.

Huckabee often sends out tweets meant to be provocative or mockingly funny, but in this case, he missed the mark factually.

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