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Trump Repeats False Claim About El Paso Crime, This Time in El Paso

Category: Political News,Politics

What Mr. Trump said

“I’ve been hearing a lot of things: ‘Oh the wall didn’t make that much of a difference.’ You know where it made a big difference? Right here in El Paso.”

Mr. Trump is repeating his widely debunked claim made in his State of the Union address that El Paso transformed from “one of the most dangerous cities” into one of the safest cities in the United States after the construction of barriers at the border.

El Paso was never one of the most dangerous cities in the country. It has had a consistently lower crime rate than the average among more than 20 similarly sized cities, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In that group, El Paso reported the second-lowest violent crime rate in 2008 — before the construction of border fencing. And after the barrier was completed, it held the rank while the violent crime rate did not change considerably.

The inaccurate claim has also drawn the rebuke of Democratic and Republican local politicians alike, including Beto O’Rourke, the former Democratic congressman from El Paso, and the Republican mayor of the city.

“I don’t care if the mayor is a Democrat or a Republican, they are full of crap when they say the border barrier didn’t help lower the crime rate,” Mr. Trump said, again adding falsely, “It didn’t stay the same. It went way down.”

What Was Said

“If we cut detention space, we are cutting loose dangerous criminals into our country.”

Before Mr. Trump took the stage, lawmakers in Washington reached a tentative deal on border security that included funding for physical barriers at the border and the reduction of detention space for migrants.

Democrats had sought to limit the number of detention beds under the control of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, arguing that limiting the beds would force the agency to prioritize migrants with serious criminal records. Matt Albence, the deputy director of ICE, said a reduction in the number of beds would mean the release of criminals.

Whether or not ICE would be forced to released hardened criminals is a prediction that cannot be fact checked, but available data suggests that most immigrants in detention have not committed serious crimes. Records obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University show that in June 2018, for example, ICE held more than 44,000 migrants in detention facilities across the country. Of these migrants, 58 percent had no criminal conviction and 21 percent had committed minor offenses such as traffic violations or illegal entry while 18 percent had been convicted of serious crimes.

ICE has disputed that breakdown but used a broader measure for its figures: The agency said 54 percent of detained immigrants had criminal records or faced pending charges, though it did not specify what crimes they were accused of committing.


In addition, Mr. Trump repeated at least eight other claims The New York Times has previously checked:

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