Katherine Pecora, Staff Writer
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, President Donald J. Trump addressed the country about the ongoing government shutdown. As with most speeches this president makes, it is up to the public, aided by the media, to fact check what he has said. The trend for him to make misleading or simply untrue statements is unlike the country has ever seen.
“The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.” This is a lie. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion in funding for border security measures such as enhanced surveillance. Democrats have refused to support a wall that Trump often touted in campaign speeches for a variety of reasons. One of the primary reasons is the racist connotation to the wall. The partial government shutdown began in December, when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate. The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would have kept the government open, but did not fund Trump’s wall. Due to criticism from the far right, Trump decided not to support the senate bill. Trump even stated that he was “proud to shut down the government” and vowed he would not blame democrats for it.
“Senator Chuck Schumer, who you will be hearing from later tonight, has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with other Democrats.” This is a misleading statement. According to the New York Times, in 2006 Sen. Schumer and 26 senate Democrats voted to authorize about 700 miles of fencing along the southwest border. Most Americans agree that border security is an important issue, again the opposition to the current “wall” is the racial connotations.
“America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.” This statement is misleading. Many economists argue that immigrants are in many ways the glue that holds our workforce together. Specifically looking at Washington State, many immigrants, documented and undocumented, work in the eastern part of the state harvesting fruit seasonally. This is grueling work that American citizens, and more specifically Washington state workers, do not take.
“The wall will also be paid for, indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.” This is a lie. The revised North American Free Trade Agreement now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has not yet passed congress. If this agreement is to pass, the benefits from this will likely be in the form of lower tariffs for American companies or higher wages for workers. During the campaign, Trump often touted that Mexico would pay for the wall.
“One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico.” This statement is misleading. The trek to the U.S. southern border is notably dangerous. According to Doctors Without Borders, “68.3 percent of migrants and refugees entering Mexico reported being the victims of violence during their transit towards the US.” Nearly one third of these women said they have been sexually abused, and this is a large reason that women have chosen to travel in caravans. In this statement, Trump has overlooked the sexual abuse and violence that leads women to leave their native country and travel to the U.S. Conflating traditional immigration and refugee status overlooks the very real issues that disproportionately affect women who seek asylum or refugee status. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: “Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm.”
Another stark reality is that southern border apprehensions have fallen since 2000. The graphic from U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows the numbers of apprehension in fiscal years.
“Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.” This is a lie. In America, you are more likely to be murdered by an American citizen than an undocumented immigrant. To suggest or believe otherwise is to spread or believe a lie. Undocumented immigrants make up roughly 3 percent of the population for Trump’s statement to be true it would mean that 3 percent of the population was responsible for just under a quarter of all homicides between 2002 and 2016. In contrast, murders committed by white supremacists more than doubled in 2017, far right radicals were responsible for 20 out of the 34 extremist murders in 2017 according to the Anti-Defamation League. Much of this is due to the fact that white supremacists are emboldened and this is often tied to statements and actions taken by the president. Last May, Trump quietly cut $10 million ($7.7m) in funding to groups which fight right-wing extremism in the US.
So, in the grand scheme of things why does this matter? People who believe and spread this information are spreading lies or misleading information. Looking strictly at the numbers immigration is not at historic highs, and to suggest otherwise is a lie. All this being said, border security is an important issue and our House and Senate are adept to handle the issue. America is a country based on immigration, without it we would not be where we are today. The president is making a mountain out of a molehill while spreading false and misleading information.