Trump’s incoherent position on the border ‘crisis,’ in one tweet

"The situation at the border has now reached a point of crisis."

CREDIT: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
CREDIT: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Barely a month ago, President Trump bragged about illegal border crossings being at a historic low.

“45 year low on illegal border crossings this year,” Trump tweeted on February 28. “Ice and Border Patrol Agents are doing a great job for our Country. MS-13 thugs being hit hard.”

What a difference five weeks makes. On Wednesday, Trump signed a proclamation directing the deployment of National Guard troops along the southern border to confront “a point of crisis.”


“The lawlessness that continues at our southern border is fundamentally incompatible with the safety, security, and sovereignty of the American people,” Trump’s proclamation says, adding that he has “no choice but to act.”

Trump’s sudden embrace of a bellicose rhetoric about the border is traceable to a Fox News segment about a “caravan” of migrants that aired on Sunday morning, and prompted a string of angry tweets from the president.

Other reporting indicates Trump’s new hard-line tone on immigration — he tweeted about the topic more than a half-dozen times on Sunday and Monday — may have something to do with conversations he had with Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro during his Easter weekend getaway to Mar-a-Lago.


The “caravan” of immigrants that was of such concern to Trump petered out in Mexico, long before it approached the border. But conveniently for the president, on Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security released numbers showing a one-month uptick in border crossings for March. The White House seized upon the uptick to make a case that the need for troops at the border is “a crisis” and “urgent.”

On Thursday, Trump tried to thread the needle, taking credit for border crossings being at a historic low, while simultaneously arguing that even that even a low number of crossings is “UNACCEPTABLE.”

The Trump administration has a pattern of misusing a single data point to further its political agenda. Earlier this year, the White House and Department of Justice touted FBI crime statistics showing a very slight drop in U.S. violent crime in 2017, and used them to argue that “[f]or the first time in a long time, Americans can have hope for a safer future.”

There was just one problem with that messaging — long-term data shows that violent crime in America’s largest cities has been steadily decreasing for more than two decades, through both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Along similar lines, the number of illegal border crossings typically goes up in March as the weather improves. But in order to justify Trump’s hasty decision to deploy troops to the border, his administration would have you believe that last month’s numbers reflect a historic crisis necessitating a military response.