Jeremy Beck's picture


  by  Jeremy Beck

National Public Radio has a useful but flawed fact check of Donald Trump's immigration speech in Arizona last night. Here are five areas where the NPR fact checks and clarifications could use some of their own:

NPR: "Trump lamented the "record pace" of immigration, but between 2009 and 2014, the U.S. has actually seen more Mexican immigrants LEAVING the U.S. than coming in, a net loss of 140,000 immigrants."

Fact Check: Trump didn't specify immigration from Mexico in his comment (though given Mexico-will-pay rhetoric it is understandable how one might infer that). Immigration has been going at a record pace, with the last two decades amounting to the largest wave of immigration in U.S. history (see DHS, table 1).

NPR: "Trump cited President Eisenhower, referencing his "Operation Wetback," the program undertaken by Eisenhower to deport immigrants in the U.S. illegally. notes that he deported some 2.1 million, a figure that is "criticized as inflated by guesswork." More have been deported during President Obama's time in office. No one has deported as many as 11 million who are currently within the U.S."

Fact Check: NPR links to a Scott Horsley report that compares removals under Obama to past administrations. President Obama (audio here), Secretary Johnson, former Secretary Napolitano, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Fusion, Jessica Vaughan, the Center for Immigration Studies, Conn Carroll, Patrick Brennan, and Sean Davis among others have pointed out that the Obama administration processes removals differently than past administrations, making apples-to-apples comparisons "deceptive" (to use Obama's term).

NPR: "Trump appears to be referring to this Boston Globe article in which ICE told the Globe that 12,941 were released from 2008 to 2014. The numbers were actually higher, over 86,000, the Globe notes, between 2013 and 2015 alone. The 12,941 figure was a number that the Supreme Court forced ICE to release, according to the Globe. Not all were violent criminals, and some 140 countries would not cooperate with deportations. It's not clear, however, what specifically Donald Trump is suggesting Hillary Clinton could have done about that."

Fact Check: Trump was clear on this point, saying:

"Yet, despite the existence of a law that commands the secretary of state to stop issuing visas to these countries, Secretary Hillary Clinton ignored this law and refused to use this powerful tool to bring nations into compliance."

Federal law requires the State Department to discontinue the granting of visas from countries that refuse to take their criminal nationals back. But the State Department has not complied. Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) asked for an explanation last month.

NPR: "A substantial number of people in the U.S. illegally entered the country legally, but have overstayed visas. Last year, when Marco Rubio said 40 percent of people in the nation illegally have overstayed visas, PolitiFact rated it "mostly true." Fresh estimates of the figure aren't available, the site wrote, but the 40 percent figure seemed to be a fairly good estimate."

Fact Check: NPR was checking this Trump comment:

"Last year alone, nearly a half a million individuals overstayed their temporary visas. Removing visa overstays will be a top priority of my administration."

The first part is true (debate the second part among yourselves!) For the first time ever, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on visa overstays. In fiscal year 2015, 482,781 people overstayed their visas. Another approximately 43,000 overstayed but eventually left.

NPR: "E-Verify is an online system that allows employers to check whether job applicants are authorized to work in this country. It's used by less than 10 percent of employers today, but expanding the system was an important component of the bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate in 2013. (It died in the House.) E-Verify faces lingering challenges, including "false negatives" when people who should be allowed to work are shown to be ineligible, and privacy concerns."

Fact Check: Those 10 percent of employers account for a disproportionate number of new hires in America. In FY2013, E-Verify was used to authorize workers in the U.S. approximately 24 million times. E-Verify enrolled its 500,000th employer at the end of 2013. E-Verify Self-Check is available in all 50 states. Anyone can see if their records are up to date and if they are legally authorized to work in the United States before they apply for a job.

The 2013 Gang of Eight bill would have replaced E-Verify with an unspecified new system. President Obama and Senator Schumer took a hard line against an E-Verify trigger proposed by the House working group.

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA

Updated: Wed, Nov 2nd 2016 @ 9:05am EDT

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