Donald Trump said on Tuesday that much of the border wall he wants has already been built and has been “very effective.” But that is not true.
He apparently was referring to old border fencing built decades ago. And nothing he’s done has been “very effective.”
Even with his hard-line immigration policies and inflammatory rhetoric attempted border crossings and border arrests have increased significantly over the past year.
Here is what Trump said during his meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer:
“A lot of the wall is built. It has been very effective. I asked for a couple of notes on that. If you look at San Diego, illegal traffic dropped 92 percent once the wall was up. El Paso, illegal traffic dropped 72 percent then ultimately 95 percent once the wall was up. In Tucson, Arizona, illegal traffic dropped 92 percent. Yuma, it dropped illegal traffic 95 to 96 percent. When I say dropped, the only reason we have any percentage where people got through is because they walk and go around areas that are not built. It dropped virtually 100 percent in the areas where the wall is. It is very effective.”
Most of what Trump is provably false. Looking at each of his claims in more detail:
New sections of the border wall
- Trump said: “A lot of the wall is built. It has been very effective.”
Under Trump, the military has installed 70 miles of concertina wire. Separately, border authorities have worked on improving existing structures. Only one of those projects started and finished under Trump.
Also, while Trump says that border fencing has been “very effective,” he didn’t mention that illegal border crossings are increasing.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials, there were nearly 397,000 people arrested trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border in the 2018 budget year. That number represents a spike from the 300,000 figure in 2017 and puts levels on par with 2016 before Trump took office.
- Trump said: “San Diego, illegal traffic dropped 92 percent once the wall was up.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the “wall” in San Diego was built in 1992, and, the agency spokesperson told ABC News, “Illegal traffic has dropped 92 percent over the past 23 years.”
There has also been a new border construction project in Calexico, California, about 120 miles from San Diego, but that 2.25 mile project was started “well before” this administration too, the CBP chief at that port said.
- Trump said: “El Paso, illegal traffic dropped 72 percent then ultimately 95 percent once the wall was up.”
DHS said El Paso border security was built in 1993, and since then illegal traffic “dropped 72 percent in one year and 95 percent over 22 years.”
This administration completed a remodeling project there, but that project started before Trump was in office.
- Trump said : “In Tucson, Arizona, illegal traffic dropped 92 percent. Yuma, it dropped illegal traffic 95 percent to 96 percent.”
DHS officials said that the Tucson structure was built in 2000 and Yuma construction started in 2005 — both well before Trump was elected. DHS officials said that illegal traffic has dropped in Tucson by 90 percent in the past 15 years, and by 95 percent in nine years.
All of the above data shows that drops in traffic were not the result of any of Trump’s policies, and border structures were built long before Trump became president.
- Trump said: “People are pouring into our country, including terrorists. We have terrorists. But we caught 10 terrorists. These are over the last very short period of time — 10.”
This comment came from Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has said that DHS blocks “10 known or suspected terrorists a day from traveling to or attempting to enter the U.S.”
But Nielsen was not referring to immigrants coming in over the U.S.-Mexico border.
The State Department said in a report last year that there was “no credible information” that any member of a terrorist group traveled through Mexico to enter the United States.
In summary, Donald Trump continues to lie instead of provide facts to support his beloved border wall. This is why nobody in Congress wants to provide billions of dollars to fund the project. They know it won’t work, and they know it is only being proposed because Trump recklessly, and irrationally, promised his core base of racist supporters that a wall would be built once he became president.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.