“And why not? Why would Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador — why would they keep their criminals when you can put them into a caravan, lose them in a caravan, and send them up to the United States?” he said. “We take everybody, because the Democrats don’t allow immigration laws that mean anything. It’s horrible.”
By all accounts, the caravans have consisted of people who decide for themselves that they want to migrate. There has been no hint that governments have forced anyone into one of the caravan groups.
“Everything we have seen suggests the migrant caravans were loosely organized and largely spontaneous in nature, and were not organized or directed by the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras,” said Ariel Ruiz, an associate policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.
Migrants and the courts
Trump repeated one of his frequent false claims about migrants who are apprehended and then released to await a court hearing.
“We catch them and release them. We catch them and say, ‘Come back to court in five years,’ and nobody comes back. Two percent, to be accurate. I want to be accurate, because I don’t want the press to say I was inaccurate. Two percent come back. And those people we wonder why — why are they coming back? They’re the only ones.”
It is possible that the percentage has fallen since 2017, but there is no sign that it has fallen to anywhere close to 2% or zero.
“We’re doing very well but we have no help whatsoever from the Democrats. … They obviously don’t mind crime and drugs and human trafficking, which is a tremendous problem. And it’s human trafficking mostly in women. And you know Democrats — with their big wonderful hearts, human trafficking with women, where three, four, five women are put in the back of a van or the back of a car, and they go through areas where there will soon be wall but there’s no wall right now, because you can’t obviously come through ports of entry,” Trump said.
“I have worked on human trafficking on multiple continents in multiple countries for more than two decades, and in all the work that I’ve done with trafficking victims, I have met one who was actually kidnapped and thrown into a car,” Martina Vandenberg of the Human Trafficking Legal Center told CNN in January, when Trump was telling frequent stories about women being bound and gagged in cars.
Many victims, experts say, are tricked into coming to the US with promises of a good job. Others are coerced through threats to their families or themselves. While experts say there may be some cases like the ones Trump has described, they emphasize that such cases are in a small minority.
Democrats and borders
“We’re doing very well but we have no help whatsoever from the Democrats. Just the opposite. They want open borders. They obviously don’t mind crime and drugs and human trafficking, which is a tremendous problem,” Trump said.
But none of them have proposed literally opening the border to unrestricted migration.
Louisiana LNG plant
Trump also took credit for an energy facility that he is not responsible for.
“Or LNG plants; I just left Louisiana, cut a ribbon for a $10 billion LNG plant that’s so incredible people wouldn’t believe it. It was many, many years trying to get permits, they couldn’t get the permits, but we got the permits and we got it very rapidly.”
Facts First: The permits for the facility Trump visited were granted by the Obama administration.
North Korea and US remains
“And every car that comes through that used to be made in the United States — now Mexico has 30% of our car business. But that’s not going to happen anymore, no more — no more companies are going to leave because we have reasons that they can’t leave anymore. There’s just no reason for them to leave anymore,” Trump said.
Facts First: Nothing in Trump’s revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada prevents automotive companies from leaving the United States.
The border wall
“We’re building a lot of wall right now,” Trump said.
Facts First: No new miles of wall were under construction as of last month.
Customs and Border Protection provided a fact sheet saying that “construction activities” had “started for approximately 13 miles of new border wall system and levee wall system in the Rio Grande Valley.” But such “activities” are different from construction itself; they include the clearing of vegetation, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson previously told us, and there is no current sign that construction of the actual wall has started. Even if it now has quietly started, that is not “a lot of wall.”
Trump accurately boasted of record unemployment rates for members of various minority groups, then made an inaccurate claim about the rate for women.
“Our unemployment numbers are historic in the sense that we’ve never had better numbers … women, 75 years,” he said.
Tariffs on China
Trump returned to a favorite story about how he decided to announce $16 billion in aid to farmers hurt by his tariff battle with China.
“Out of the tariffs, I took $16 billion to make up for the shortfall. I went to (Agriculture) Secretary Sonny Perdue … I said, ‘What was the amount at its highest that China pumped into the farmers in the form of purchase?’ ‘$16 billion.’ I said that’s alright, we’re taking many, many times that in tariffs. We’re going to help the farmers out, and I did that with $16 billion,” Trump said.
Trade deficit with China
“During the Obama administration, $500 billion a year was being lost to China. Five hundred billion,” Trump said.
Those were record figures.
Since Trump’s election, he said, “China’s lost $20 trillion.”
Facts First: There is no apparent basis for the $20 trillion figure. Experts on the Chinese economy have even rejected previous Trump claims of a $10 trillion drop in Chinese wealth.
The Iran Deal
“Remember one thing. An agreement was made with Secretary Kerry at the time and with President Obama. That agreement was a disaster. Spent $150 billion,” he said.
Facts First: The US did not “spen(d)” tens of billions to make the Iran nuclear deal; the deal allowed Iran to access tens of billions in its own assets — not US cash — that had been frozen in foreign financial institutions because of sanctions. The total was significantly lower than $150 billion, experts say.
Trump cited two quotes for which there is no evidence. In the first case, about Trump’s prowess in hostage negotiations, there is no evidence that the quote itself was ever uttered. In the second case, about Google and China, the substance of the quote is the issue.
Trump the hostage negotiator
“Our ambassador for hostage negotiation said Trump is the greatest of all time. I only tell you that because you’ll never say it,” he said.
Facts First: There is no public evidence of this quote.
It is possible, of course, that O’Brien told Trump this in private.
Trump was asked about a tweet this morning in which he quoted an accusation against Google from billionaire technology investor Peter Thiel, who suggested in a speech this weekend that Google might have made a “seemingly treasonous decision to work with the Chinese military.”
“He (Peter Thiel) made a very strong charge,” Trump said. “He’s one of the top, maybe the top expert on all of those things, and he made a very big statement about Google. … it’s a big statement when you say that, you know, Google is involved with China in not a very positive way for our country,” Trump said.
Facts First: Thiel, a board member at Facebook, provided no evidence for his accusation either in the Sunday speech or in his Monday appearance on Fox News. Google has rejected the accusation: “As we have said before, we do not work with the Chinese military,” Google told CNN on Tuesday.
In March, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Google’s work in China is “indirectly benefiting the Chinese military.”
In a Monday interview on Fox Business, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow said he had not spoken to Thiel and was “not sure where he was going or what he’s pointing to.”
“I meet with Google CEO on a regular basis. I think they are working for America, for our military, and not for China,” Kudlow said.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.