President Donald Trump took time out during his speech at the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention on Monday to mock immigrants for showing up to their court dates.
Speaking about his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, for which he has requested $5.7 billion in funding (and over which he kick-started the ongoing government shutdown), Trump rebuked what he described as failed immigration policies, including “catch and release,” which allows undocumented immigrants to live in the country while their cases play out in immigration court.
“Somebody comes into our country, they touch one foot on the ground, and we have to catch them — it’s called ‘catch,'” Trump told the crowd. “We then take their names and we bring them to a court — can you believe this? — and we release them. But you see we’re trying to do ‘catch and hold.’ ‘Catch and not release.'”
Trump and members of his administration have repeatedly denounced catch and release in the past because they believe immigrants will choose to avoid the law and miss their day in court, in order to remain in the country.
“Now tell me, what percentage of people come back? Would you say 100 percent? No, you’re a little off. How about 2 percent?” Trump asked the crowd.
He then proceeded to mock the “two percent” that do show up to court, saying they were “not smart.”
“Those 2 percent are not going to make America great again,” he added.
Fox News cuts away from Trump's speech after he rants about how undocumented immigrants who do show up to court hearings are "not smart." pic.twitter.com/RLwZTyRKNT
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 14, 2019
The government’s own data proves the “2 percent” figure is incorrect. According to a Justice Department report from the Executive Office For Immigration Review, in 2017, the number of immigrants who showed up for their court dates was actually 89 percent.
That number has consistently remained high. In 2016, the number of immigrants who showed up for their court dates was 91 percent, and from 2014 to 2015, it was higher than 93 percent.
These numbers are also backed up by the American Immigration Council, which concluded that, on average, from 2001 to 2016, roughly 90 percent of asylum-seeking families showed up to courthouse on their assigned date.
Even the Republican-friendly Center For Immigration Studies has conceded that these families consistently follow the rules by meeting their court dates. This is largely because immigrant families know what is at stake: failure to meet mandatory court dates can result in an order of removal, effectively causing immigrants to be deported back to their country of origin.