Monday, July 2, 2018

Calling Out Lies

This is a complete break from my usual posts. For this, I took a dive into my archive to revisit the immigration issue. I covered immigration, in the US, in Mexico and in Guatemala, from 1996, when we moved to El Paso, TX., until 2012, when we left Phoenix and moved to Bangkok. From 2001 until 2009, I covered immigration, and immigration related issues, almost exclusively. Please follow the links for more on the issues I'm writing about.  
A US Border Patrol agent detains a Mexican national trying to enter the US illegally near Sierra Vista, AZ. (27 July 2001)

The President is lying about immigration. It is past time to explicitly say that. How do we know he's lying? The easy, snarky, answer is that it's because his lips are moving. Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize winning fact checkers, found 69% of trump statements "Mostly False," "False," or "Pants on Fire". And while saying the President is constant lying might be objectively true, it doesn't move the discussion forward.
A Mexican family from the state of Jalisco hide in the back of a car crossing the border. They were apprehended on the Tohono O'Odham reservation, southwest of Tucson, AZ. (5 May 2003)

In the interest of moving the discussion forward, here's how we know he's lying.

First we have to establish the difference between a lie and a misstatement. No one can truly know what is in the heart of another person. Is he lying because he's misingformed and therefore unaware of the truth? Are statements from the stump signs of true animus or merely playing to the crowd? Because of this, I am willing to give a person a pass on their first utterance of a false statement.

So the first time the President says the border is "out of control," I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he's misinformed. Maybe he'll issue a correction when he educates himself and learns the truth. But the second time he says the border is out of control? Then he's lying.
Mexican nationals, apprehended in Douglas, AZ, walk to a Border Patrol vehicle. They were taken to the BP station in Douglas, processed and returned to Mexico. (5 October 2005)

The President is lying about an out of control border. How do we know? We can look at the Border Patrol's numbers. The Border Patrol's numbers show that undocumented immigation is down, significantly, since 2000. In the Tucson sector, where I did most of my work, the Border Patrol apprehended 616,346 people in FY2000 (Fiscal Year). By FY 2008, it had been cut almost in half to 317,696. And by FY 2017, the number was down to 38,657. That's a decline in apprehensions of about 94%. That is not an "out of control" border. That is a sign that deterrence is working.

The trend holds, although not as dramatically, across the Southwest Border. In FY2000, the Border Patrol apprehended 1,643,679 people across the Southwest Border. In FY2017, the number was down to 303,916. That's an overall decline of about 82%. Again, not a sign of an "out of control" border. When the President continuously repeats a misstatement, he is lying.

(More below...)