A number of the “fact-checkers” who evaluated the immigration information Donald Trump highlighted in his nomination acceptance speech last week offered “sloppy” and “downright false” analyses, according to Center for Immigration Studies policy director Jessica Vaughan.
In a fact-check of the fact-checkers, Vaughan took The Washington Post, Politifact, and the Los Angeles Times to task for their challenges to the data Trump cited as examples showing that illegal immigration is a problem.
Washington Post writers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee received a substantial chunk of ink in Vaughan’s analysis for dismissing accurate data. For example, Kessler and Lee argued that Trump’s accurate statement that “the number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015” was “cherry-picked.”
In their rapid response to Trump’s speech, Washington Post writers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee dismissed the Trump statement as “another cherry-picked number”. They wanted readers to focus instead on the total number of apprehensions at the border, which they pointed out was also higher than last year, but lower than 2012-2014.
But Trump’s statement appropriately ties the rising number of illegally-arriving families and minors with the policy that allows for their release into American communities. Top Border Patrol officials, too, have linked this catch-and-release policy to the rising numbers. In contrast, most other illegal border crossers are promptly repatriated, and thus impose no public safety or fiscal cost on local communities. The Post’s redirection is inapt. Besides, it does not change the fundamental truth of Trump’s statement.
Kessler and Lee also want their readers to know that the released Central Americans are requesting asylum (“or intend to”), as if that somehow mitigates the impact of the numbers.
Another point of contention for the fact checkers was Trump’s accurate statement that “Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.” According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data, 182,786 criminal aliens with final orders of deportation remain in the U.S., 176,126 of whom are not detained.
The Washington Post, however, concluded, “This number sounds worse than it really is.”
Glen Kessler’s commentary in the Washington Post was also sloppy and full of errors, not to mention astonishingly blasé about crime and public safety. Kessler wrote that Trump’s statement on the 180,000 at-large deportable criminal aliens “sounds worse than it really is.” Glen, tell that to the mother of Casey Chadwick, who was killed by one of them.
Kessler then wrote: “The actual crimes committed by this group are not documented, so Trump cannot easily claim all of these illegal immigrants are threatening.” Though Trump was speaking about criminal aliens who have not been removed, Kessler cited ICE statistics on criminal aliens who were removed to try to show that these 180,000 aliens who are still here are not particularly threatening to anyone.
If Kessler had done a simple internet search on “crimes of released criminal aliens”, he would have found pages of links to various articles, not only on the CIS website, where we have published ICE’s enumerations of the crimes committed by aliens released in the last several years (see here, here, and here), but also in widely circulated investigative reports in the Boston Globe and the Atlanta Journal & Constitution.
After I sent these links to Kessler, he added them as an “Update”.
Vaughan also took Politifact writer Miriam Valverde to task for calling Trump’s assertion that 180,000 criminal aliens are roaming free “mostly true” as opposed to “true.”
Valverde went on to justify the “mostly true” characterization by noting that “experts say there is some important context.” The first expert she quoted, Ana Gonzalez-Barrera of the Pew Research Center (no parenthetical offered on their slant), noted that the 180,000 includes deportable aliens whose countries won’t take them back. Yes, it does, but as I told Valverde several hours later, according to ICE statistics I had given her, in 2015 those cases made up about 10 percent of the releases, and thus are not particularly representative of the total, so how is that vital context that materially affects the truth of the statement?
Valverde next quoted Nestor Rodriguez, a sociology professor at the University of Texas (no descriptive language other than “sociology professor” needed for the reader to understand his slant). He told Valverde that the 180,000 included “many young mothers with small children who seek asylum … looking for informal jobs to support their families.” That is quite obviously wrong (the ICE document clearly labels these cases “convicted criminals” who have concluded their immigration hearings).
Some hours after I wrote Valverde to point out these errors, she got back to me saying that Rodriguez has retracted his “expert” comment on the mothers. She added a statement from ICE, saying that the agency makes release decisions on a “case by case basis”. Right, just like Root’s killer, Eswin Mejia, and just like MS-13 members Henry Ernesto Dominguez-Vasquez and Juan Moises Aguirre Zelaya, awaiting trial for the murder of another “unaccompanied” teen in Loudoun County, Va., and just like Osmin Antonio Murcia, now incarcerated in Massachusetts for slashing with intent to murder another teen last Halloween.
Valverde issued a correction, but did not change the “mostly true” rating.
Finally, Vaughan highlighted the odd attempt to disprove Trump’s valid comment, based on fiscal year data, that “The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015.”
Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times reported (at 7:28 p.m., before Trump had even spoken) that Trump was “essentially correct here”. But, she noted, if you “adjust” how you count the numbers according to the calendar year instead of the fiscal year, and count only January through June (six months instead of the nine counted by Trump and the federal