We are in the third week of Trump's border shutdown. He's done it to try and force Congress to give him $5 billion to start construction on his border wall (the one he promised that Mexico would pay for). And to get the wall money, Trump (and his White House aides) are either ignoring or lying about the facts.
In an op-ed for USA Today, Sally Kohn gives us 9 facts that Trump would rather you didn't know about. They are:
1. Illegal border crossings are down. Significantly.
In 2000, 1.6 million people were apprehended trying to cross the southern border into the United States. In 2001, 1.3 million were apprehended. In 2018? Less than 400,000. That’s not just a decline. It’s a significant decline.
2. The counties along the southern border are among the safest in the United States.
According to data from the Wilson Center, as summarized by The Washington Post, “The crime rates in U.S. border counties are lower than the average for similarly sized inland counties, with two exceptions out of 23 total.”
3. Most undocumented immigrants don’t “sneak” across the border.
The majority of immigrants in the USA without authorization first entered the country legally, and then overstayed their visas. The Center for Migration Studies said in a 2017 report that crossing the border is not the way “the large majority of persons now becoming undocumented.” It reported that two-thirds of undocumented immigrants entered the U.S. legally and then simply overstayed their visas. If you legitimately are concerned about the issue of undocumented immigrants, as opposed to just exacerbating and exploiting fearmongering for political gain, then this is where you would focus — not the border.
4. The White House is lying about terrorists crossing the southern border.
In an interview on Fox News this weekend, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted that “nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally, and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border.” Sanders' careful wording suggests she knew she was more than bending the truth. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace fact-checked Sanders: “Do you know where those 4,000 people come, where they are captured? Airports.”
“The state department says there hasn’t been any terrorists found coming across the southern border,” Wallace stated. But Sanders kept pressing the lie, because Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda relies on fact-less fearmongering.
5. Migrant caravans aren’t “sneaking” across the border, either.
If you care about facts, it’s important to distinguish between illegal border crossings and migrants lawfully presenting themselves at southern ports of entry in order to apply for asylum. The simple fact is that large groups of very visible migrants, such as the main so-called migrant caravan of people fleeing violence in Central America, are obviously not trying to “sneak” across the U.S. border. They’re coming to the border to apply for asylum, which was a completely transparent and lawful process until Trump started changing the rules.
6. Drugs entering the USA across the southern border are most often hidden in legal shipments.
Trump has suggested that the flow of heroin into the United States would be stanched by his border wall. He’s right that 90 percent of heroin enters through the southern border. However, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, “illicit drugs are smuggled into the United States in concealed compartments within passenger vehicles or commingled with legitimate goods on tractor trailers.”
In other words, a wall wouldn’t stop most heroin from entering the country. And arguably, resources spent on the wall would divert from other enforcement mechanisms, such as more officers and technology at ports of entry to scan vehicles for drugs.
7. Conservative political figures and think tanks think Trump’s wall is pointless.
What apparently began as a memory device to help the undisciplined Trump remember what to thunder about during campaign appearances has turned into a central bone the president won’t let go of. But there’s a reason Trump couldn’t get funding for his wall during the past two years of his presidency when his own party completely controlled both houses of Congress: They didn’t want it. The New York Times reports that leading anti-immigration activists are concerned Trump’s focus on the “relatively ineffectual” wall is distracting from other strategies they would like prioritized.
8. There are already 654 miles of border fencing.
The U.S.-Mexico border is 1,933 miles long. Of that, 34 percent already has a wall or a fence — in particular, parts along the areas of the border that are most easily accessed by people traveling by car or on foot. That’s right, there’s already a wall along 654 miles of the U.S. border. What’s the rest? Huge mountains and rivers and vast stretches of land that are privately owned, which the United States would have to seize through eminent domain if Trump got his way. Mind you, those areas aren’t completely open — they’re actively patrolled using sensors and drones and other technology, the sorts of things experts say actually work.
9. Americans do not support Trump’s wall.
“The people of our country want it,” Trump said recently. No, they do not. A mid-December poll found that 54 percent of respondents opposed Trump’s wall. That number even crept up slightly by late December. And more than two out of three Americans don’t think the wall should be a political priority. It’s also worth noting that most Americans blame Trump for the government shutdown that he initiated by trying to hold government funding hostage to get his stupid wall.
Americans don’t support Trump’s wall because they know the truth — that we have a tough immigration and border enforcement system already working, and way bigger problems to focus on fixing in our nation.