Igor Bobic , Amanda Terkel , Kate Sheppard write in HuffPost:
“Yet many key assertions Trump made were patently false. America is neither crime-infested nor still mired in a recession, as he portrayed. Moreover, some of his bold rhetoric on issues like the environment, immigration, civil rights, women’s rights and child care are directly undercut by the policies he has pursued or promised to pursue since taking office on Jan. 20.
Trump welcomed the idea of compromise on immigration reform, calling on Democrats and Republicans to “work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.” Prior to the speech, he even told reporters that he wanted a bill that could grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Despite his call for compromise, however, Trump has directed his administration to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more aggressively. The policy, which he dubbed a “military operation,” has given immigration officials the freedom to target not only serious criminals, as Trump has promised, but also undocumented immigrants with misdemeanors and some with no criminal history at all. And he still has plans to build a “great” wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress strongly oppose.
“At one point, he mentioned that he was targeting and criminalizing immigrants, but at the same time, he’s saying we need to unite?” asked Roque Pech, a beneficiary of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants temporary deportation relief to certain young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Pech, who attended the event as a guest of Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), said Trump’s immigration talk made no sense: “I felt like multiple times he was contradicting himself. That was one of the clearer examples.”
Matthew Cooper, writing in Newsweek, was also blunt in his assessment:
“Yet no one listening to the nearly hour-long address would think Trump had mellowed his nationalist agenda. His decision to create an office at the Justice Department focused on crime caused by illegal immigrants elicited groans from Democrats in the chamber. Just as President Barack Obama once held up DREAMers—immigrants who arrived illegally as children and went on to lead productive lives—Trump pointed to families gathered in the House of Representatives who had lost family members to crimes perpetrated by undocumented immigrants. Trump showed no signs of softening his stance on immigration, save for not invoking his usual promise to have Mexico pay for the wall. If anything he went further, by suggesting that the current immigration system should be overhauled and based on “merit,” however that’s defined. Despite news reports earlier on Tuesday that he might be open to some kind of immigration reform allowing 11 million undocumented migrants to stay in the U.S., there was no indication of that kind of softening in his address. Instead he invoked the frightening image of immigrants driving down wages and raising havoc. “Lawless chaos,” he called it. The solution, he said: “We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders.” By applauding Jamiel Shaw, the African-American man whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant, Trump made his case for getting tough on the border and did so in a way that would help insulate him against charges of racism.”
And, according to the Washington Post’s “Fact Checkers,” Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, striking a more “Presidential tone,” Trump continues to pile up erroneous statements at an impressive rate:
“An address to Congress is such an important speech that presidents generally are careful not to stretch the truth. The “16 words” in George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address that falsely claimed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa led to significant turmoil in the administration, including the criminal conviction of a top aide.
President Trump’s maiden address to Congress was notable because it was filled with numerous inaccuracies. In fact, many of the president’s false claims are old favorites that he trots out on a regular, almost daily basis. Here’s a roundup of 13 of the more notable claims, in the order in which the president made them.
. . . .
“We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.”
The data are mixed on the amount of drugs coming through the borders. The amount of marijuana seized at the border continues to decline — probably a reflection of drug use in the United States, as more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use. In fiscal 2016, 1.3 million pounds of marijuana were seized, down from 1.5 million the year before, and lower than the peak of nearly 4 million pounds in 2009, according to Customs and Border Protection data. The amount of cocaine seized at the borders overall in fiscal 2016 (5,473 pounds) was roughly half the amount seized the previous year (11,220 pounds).
But the amount of heroin and methamphetamine seized has increased in recent years. In fiscal year 2016, CBP seized 9,062 pounds of heroin (compared to 8,282 in fiscal 2015) and 8,224 pounds of methamphetamine (compared to 6,443 pounds in fiscal 2015).
Meanwhile, illegal immigration flows across the Southern border in fiscal 2015 were at the lowest levels since 1972, except for in 2011. The apprehensions in fiscal 2016 (408,870) exceeded fiscal 2015 (331,333), but still indicate an overall decline since their peak in 2000 (1.6 million).
. . . .
“As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak and as I have promised throughout the campaign.”
Trump is referring to the recent arrests of undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes, or the “bad ones.” Trump takes credit for fulfilling his campaign promise of cracking down on illegal immigration, but these arrests are routine. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has always targeted dangerous criminals in enforcement priorities. The recent arrests, however, did include people who would not have fallen under narrowed enforcement priorities under Obama.
Still, 25 percent of the arrests that grabbed headlines in early February were of people who had lesser charges and noncriminal convictions. According to anecdotes of recent arrests, undocumented people with traffic violations were subject to arrest. They are not the “bad ones,” such as drug dealers or gang members, that he describes.
“By finally enforcing our immigration laws we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars and make our communities safer for everyone.”
Trump exaggerates the impact of illegal immigration on crime, taxpayer money and jobs.
Extensive research shows noncitizens are not more prone to criminality than U.S.-born citizens. The vast majority of unauthorized immigrants are not criminal aliens or aggravated felons.
Trump appears to reference the cost of illegal immigration from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports lower levels of legal and illegal immigration. According to the group, the annual cost of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local levels amounted to about $113 billion as of 2013.
The scene as President Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress
View Photos The president returned to familiar themes from his campaign in his speech to Congress, promising to reduce regulations and taxes, combat terrorism, crack down on illegal immigration and replace the Affordable Care Act.
But this calculation makes assumptions that are not necessarily tied to illegal immigration, like enrollment in English proficiency classes. The enrollment number doesn’t tell you anything about the actual citizenship status of students (i.e., they could be native-born children of undocumented immigrants, raised in a non-English-speaking home).
In general, economists have found that immigration overall results in a net positive to the U.S. economy. There are slight negative effects, which are felt most strongly by less-educated and low-skilled workers. Illegal immigration, in particular, tends to affect less-educated and low-skilled American workers the most — groups disproportionately consisting of black men and recently arrived less-educated legal immigrants.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 2010 report found that illegal immigration has tended to depress wages and employment particularly for black men. But factors other than illegal immigration contribute to black unemployment, the report found, including the high school dropout rate and low job-retention rates.
. . . .
“Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison. Jamiel Shaw Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great quarterback. But he never got the chance. His father, who is in the audience tonight, has become a good friend of mine.”
Trump likes to use anecdotes as evidence for associating violent crimes with illegal immigration, telling stories of victims of homicide by undocumented immigrants. He brought family members of those killed by illegal immigrants as his guests for Tuesday night’s speech. He often talks about the death of Jamiel Shaw Jr., a 17-year-old football star who was killed in 2008 by a gang member who was in the country illegally.
Clearly, stories like this exist. But the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants do not fit Trump’s description of aggravated felons, whose crimes include murder. U.S. Sentencing Commission data show homicides are a small percentage of the crimes committed by noncitizens, whether they are in the United States illegally or not.
The Congressional Research Service found that the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants do not fit in the category of aggravated felons, whose crimes include murder, drug trafficking or illegal trafficking of firearms.”