President Donald Trump didn’t declare a national emergency to build his border wall, as he’d previously hinted he might, when he addressed the United States from the Oval Office Tuesday night.
But the president did rattle off his some of favorite immigration talking points — many of which were predictably false or misleading — to sell the benefits of that “physical barrier.” Trump also refused to budge on his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for the wall, which catalyzed the government shutdown when Democrats wouldn’t agree to put the money in the budget.
“Imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken," Trump said, referring to Americans killed or attacked by undocumented immigrants. "This is a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul."
After the president’s speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered a joint statement that rebuked his remarks and said they relied on fear.
“President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government,” Pelosi said.
Here are six times during the president’s address that he lied or stretched the truth to sell his border wall — and blamed Democrats for the government shutdown in the process.
“There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.”
By the numbers, the “crisis” has actually decreased. In 2017, Customs and Border Protection made the lowest amount of apprehensions in 45 years.
Trump may be right about a “growing” humanitarian crisis at the border, but it’s largely one of his administration’s making. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions instituted a “zero-tolerance” policy in April that effectively separated parents from their children at the border and created “tent cities” to house the unaccompanied kids.
“Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the united States, a dramatic increase.”
Customs and Border Protection estimated that about 20,000 family units — not children — were detained at the border in the combined last two months of 2018.
Undocumented criminals routinely commit acts of violence against American citizens
Trump referenced numerous violent crimes, including rape, against American citizens that he attempted to paint as common occurrences directly linked to undocumented immigration.
“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,” Trump said. “America's heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien who just came across the border.”
Trump often uses tragic examples that only tell part of the story to demonstrate his points. An undocumented immigrant did kill a California cop at the end of December, but research shows that undocumented immigrants are less likely — by a considerable margin — to commit crimes than American-born citizens.
The new trade deal with Mexico will pay for the border wall
Trump reiterated his false claim that a revised NAFTA deal will “indirectly” pay for a border wall.
“The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico," he said.
The trade deal is not in effect. Even if it were, there’s no provision that dictates Mexico pay for the wall, and there are no new tariffs on Mexican goods, experts said.
Democrats are solely responsible for the shutdown
Trump said the shutdown could end with a “45-minute meeting” if Democrats were willing to come to the table. Democrats, however, have shown an urgency to reopen the government and passed two spending bills to reopen the government on their first day back in session, which Trump rejected outright.
Trump also said that Democrats were holding off on a wall because they want a steel barrier instead of a concrete one. Democrats have denied that’s the reason the government remains shut down.
“Every week 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border.”
Trump’s correct: 90 percent of heroin in the U.S. does come across the southern border. But a border wall would do little to stop that flow: Nearly all of the heroin comes through legal ports of entry.
It’s also true the United States is in the throes of a horrific opioid epidemic, but Trump is rounding the number of deaths up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 2017 about 15,000 people died from heroin overdose-related deaths, which comes to about 288 per week.
That year, another 28,000 people died due to overdoses involving synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, according to the CDC. That's more than any other type of opioid.
Cover image: Screenshot via White House YouTube