Fact Check: Trump’s Latest Argument For Building The Wall is A Better Argument AGAINST It
Donald Trump’s agenda so far has been a complete bust. The so-called master negotiator has failed to kill ObamaCare. He’s made no progress on tax reform. His budget has never advanced beyond the imaginary. He hasn’t even proposed a jobs bill or any infrastructure legislation. Hillary Clinton hasn’t been locked up. After seven months, everything he campaigned on is still in limbo, if that.
Trump’s border wall folly
That goes for his most recognizable campaign chant as well. Trump’s promise to “build the wall” along the border, that Mexico would pay for, is still an unrealized, unrealistic fantasy. Especially the part about Mexico paying for it. Even Trump is now conceding that American taxpayers would have to front for his vanity wall. And on top of the billions that we now have to devote to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, that becomes even more unlikely.
However, the best argument against building the wall may have come from Trump himself. During a recent press conference, Trump drifted off into campaign mode to brag about his achievements with immigration and border issues. Naturally he focused on the evils of our neighbor to the south as a crime-ridden haven for drug trafficking. All of which he used to justify going forward with the wall. But then he said this (video below):
“The wall is needed from the standpoint of security. The wall is needed from the standpoint of drugs. Tremendous, the drug scourge, what’s coming through the areas that we’re talking about. As you know, I have General Kelly here. We stopped traffic coming through, 78 percent. It’s going to be, I think, 81 percent this quarter, which is a record.
“In other administrations if they stopped it just a little bit, like 1 or 2 or 3 percent, they considered that a great thing. Well, we’re up to almost 80%, we’ll soon be over 80%.”
The magic wall
So Trump is asserting that without any new funds or personnel or legislation, he has already nearly eliminated illegal border crossings. That’s quite an success story. In fact, it makes the very notion of an expensive, questionably effective wall obsolete. Why spend billions of dollars on a problem that is already pretty much solved? The remaining percentage of the problem (in the teens) should be manageable with the same methods that produced these results.
If Trump’s boasting about these numbers is true, the wall would provide little benefit. Particularly since it was never a very good idea. Most undocumented residents did not scurry across the desert into the U.S. They came through border checkpoints with valid visas. And the major drug cartels ship their inventories primarily by sea and air. Neither of which would be impeded by a wall. So Trump has provided the best possible justification for ditching the wall project entirely.
By declaring victory and moving on, Trump could actually see a rise in his dismal approval ratings. The American people are staunchly opposed to the wall. And that opposition has only grown in recent years. According to a new poll by Fox News, the wall was supported by fifty percent in November of 2015. That went down to forty-one percent in September of 2016. And it now sits at only thirty-nine percent approval. The trend is crystal clear.
The Big Lie
So the only conceivable reason to proceed with the wall would be to satisfy Trump’s gargantuan ego. Unfortunately, that’s generally the only reason he does anything. But in this case, the reasoning laid out above has a small problem. Trump’s contention that his inept and unproductive administration reduced border crossings by eighty percent is verifiably false. PolitiFact researched the claim and tried to run it through a variety of scenarios to get it to work. They all failed.
Trump has tried to peddle this falsehood on prior occasions, and it wasn’t true then either. So what we are left with is Trump’s lie about cutting illegal immigration. Which, ironically, serves to to make a lie of his insistence on the need for a border wall. It’s an usual three dimensional lie that only an accomplished liar like Trump could pull off.
Featured Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.
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Mark Howard is the artist/author responsible for News Corpse, a website dedicated to analysis of the media and the right-wing bias inherent in a corporate-dominated media marketplace. His work has been published by nationally known progressive outlets such as Alternet and Salon. Follow News Corpse on Twitter and Facebook.