Trump during his speech cited examples of undocumented immigrants committing acts of violence as he sought to garner support for the border wall along the US-Mexico border.
“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” he said. “To those that refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask, imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken.”
But as Smith pointed out, the president did not provide important context on this and a slew of other immigration-related issues.
“Statistics show that there is less violent crime by the undocumented immigrant population than by the general population,” Smith said.
Smith is backed up by widespread research on this topic, which shows native-born Americans are more likely to commit violent crimes than undocumented immigrants. Research based on federal and state data has also found no significant causal relationship between rising immigration rates and violent crime.
Moreover, as Smith explained in reference to Trump’s suggestion undocumented immigrants are pouring across the border: “The number of undocumented crossings over the southern border has been steadily down over the last 10 years. And the government reports that there is more outward traffic than inward traffic.”
Government data backs Smith up. The number of people arrested for attempting to illegally cross the border in 2017 hit a historic low and arrests for illegal border crossings have declined drastically from historic highs.
Trump on Tuesday night also reiterated his claim the wall will help stop the flow of drugs across the southern border, but Smith noted, “Government statistics show much of the heroin actually comes not over the unguarded border but through ports of call.”
According to the most recent Drug Enforcement Agency report on the national drug threat, “The majority of the flow is through [privately owned vehicles] entering the United States at legal ports of entry, followed by tractor-trailers, where the heroin is co-mingled with legal goods.”
In short, many of the claims Trump made in his Oval Office address were inaccurate or misleading.
Trump’s insistence on obtaining funding for the border wall has led to a partial government shutdown that’s lasted over two weeks.