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.”
45 year low on illegal border crossings this year. Ice and Border Patrol Agents are doing a great job for our Country. MS-13 thugs being hit hard.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
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.
Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release. Getting more dangerous. “Caravans” coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2018
…Congress must immediately pass Border Legislation, use Nuclear Option if necessary, to stop the massive inflow of Drugs and People. Border Patrol Agents (and ICE) are GREAT, but the weak Dem laws don’t allow them to do their job. Act now Congress, our country is being stolen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018
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 Caravan is largely broken up thanks to the strong immigration laws of Mexico and their willingness to use them so as not to cause a giant scene at our Border. Because of the Trump Administrations actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 5, 2018
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.