After debate among the mainstream media about whether to even air the President of the United States' Oval Office address on immigration, Trump-critical outlets have been scrambling to poke holes in Donald Trump's message and trotting out the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to declare without many specifics that Trump is spewing "falsehood after falsehood."
The Washington Post produced a quick fact-check Tuesday night on a key Trump claim: that there were "266,000 aliens arrested in the past two years." The outlet admits that the number is "right," but says it's also "misleading." In the post dedicated to that claim, the paper fails to clearly address the second half of Trump's claim: that those 266,000 arrests include "those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings."
"It’s important to keep in mind that this figure includes all types of crimes, including nonviolent offenses such as illegal entry or reentry," the Post's Salvador Rizzo writes.
In fiscal 2018, ICE conducted 158,581 administrative arrests for civil immigration violations. The agency’s year-end report says 105,140 of those (66 percent) involved people with criminal convictions and 32,977 with pending criminal charges. Of the 143,470 administrative arrests in 2017, 74 percent involved people with criminal records and 15.5 percent who had pending charges.
So the numbers add up, but they’re misleading. The total covers all types of offenses, including illegal entry or reentry. ICE does not break down arrests by type of crime, but 16 percent of the total charges and convictions (not arrests) in 2016 were strictly immigration offenses.
So only 16% of the charges and convictions from 2016 were immigration offenses (which, of course, are still crimes); in other words, a vast majority were other crimes. If Trump's numbers are "misleading" by the Post's definition, they're only slightly misleading.
It's notable that the Post's quick fact-check on Trump's claim did not address the second half of the sentence: "including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings." A lengthier fact-check on the entire address provided by the Post afterward cites those shocking statistics, but only to say this:
Notice how Trump switches quickly from the 266,000 arrests over two years to charges and convictions: “100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings.” In many cases, the people arrested face multiple counts, so that switch gives a confusing picture.
As The Daily Wire reported, Trump presented the case for strengthened border security in his first Oval Office national address.
"Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country," he said. "America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans."
He then presented some startling statistics: "In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country."
Trump went on to cite some specific, tragic examples of needless deaths at the hands of illegal aliens:
America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien, just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country. Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders.
In California, an air force veteran was raped, murdered, and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading, and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.
Over the last several years I have met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I have held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief stricken fathers. So sad, so terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices, and the sadness gripping their souls. How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?