On November 20, 2014 president Barack Obama addressed the Nation in Cross Hall of the White House. The president took this time to give a speech on the U.S. Immigration Policy and inform Americans of what is currently taking place to redress the issue.
The Immigration Issue
Claim 1: “For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations.”
U.S. News and World Report found that although this country was built and settled by immigrants, there is little indication that the U.S had a welcoming reaction to immigrants. A perfect example of this were slaves, people who were immigrants against their will, taken from their homelands to serve others.
According to U.S. News this country was also known for enlisting immigrants to “test out living in the unconquered West,” which sounds less like an invitation and more like employment.
Claim 2: “Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history.”
A report by dhs.gov titled “Border Security in the 21st Century” confirms this statement with a breakdown of the $3.5 million budget spent on border patrol as of 2014.
This report claims a total 20,833 agents working to secure borders, approximately 18,127 of those agents belong to the southern border whereas only 8,619 managed that same border in the year 2000.
Since the year 2000 the amount of fence covered by border patrol has increased from 77 miles to 700 miles in 2014. About 11,863 underground sensors and 8 unmanned Aerial systems have been added since 2000. Also over the course of 4 years more than 50 aircrafts and vessels have been added to secure the borders of the U.S. This is just a few of the countless upgrades that have been made over the years.
Claim 3: “And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half.”
According to the Washington Post the nation’s population of illegal immigrants has dropped by 1 million since 2007. Factcheck.org also claims southwest border apprehensions are down by 32 percent since 2008.
These claims cannot be proven exactly due to the lack of statistics but the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has found the amount of border apprehensions has decreased by about half in the past five years, so it seems President Obama may have exaggerated a bit.
Claim 4: “Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years.”
Newsbusters.org reaffirms the truth behind the spike in unaccompanied children apprehended at the border however this spike was not “brief.” The number of unaccompanied children has been on a rise since 2011, that year about 16,000 children were caught crossing the border alone. Border Patrol reported more than 24,000 children in 2012 and more than 38,800 in 2013.
The International Business Times also reported about 68,541 children were apprehended in 2014, the year this speech was given.
Claim 5: “Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s.”
Politifact.com claims this statement is half true because the statistics of people who failed and succeeded in crossing the border is not maintained by the federal government, the exact numbers are unavailable.
However research from Border Patrol Data proves Obama’s numbers to be pretty accurate. About 420,000 illegal immigrants were arrested at the border in 2013; 1972 was the last time it was lower than that.
Politifact.com also points out that this comparison is unfair seeing that the immigration situation now is much different than that of the 1970s, when attempts to cross the border were much easier.
Furthermore this source explains the conflict with Obama taking credit for the numbers since the trend occurred before he took office and is also dependent on economic conditions.
The Proposed Bill
Claim 5: “Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate…But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.”
According to the International Business Times in April 2013 the Senate passed a bipartisan proposal that would increase border patrol, permit more work related immigration and provide a clear way to citizenship for the undocumented who have already been living in the U.S for some time. The bill however was declined in the House of Representatives when Republican House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor claimed this a form of “amnesty” by Obama.
Claim 8: “That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent.”
According to Factcheck.org an independent analysis of deportation data found that the majority of these removals were individuals “whose most serious conviction was an immigration or traffic violation.” The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) shows that the number of people deported for crimes other than immigration or traffic violations has actually decreased.
Claim 9: “Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society.”
This was one of Obama’s final claim which gained a lot of attention and may in fact be true. The New York Times Magazine wrote an article in which they discuss the few “undeniable” negative effects of Immigration as well as the large positive impact on both the economy and society.
The Social Security Administration declare that undocumented worker contribute $15 billion a year to Social Security by means of payroll taxes.
Undocumented workers have also contributed to 10 percent of the $2.7 trillion Social Security Trust Fund over the past few years. Another statistic from this article states that undocumented workers have increased legal workers’ pay by up to 10 percent between the years 1990 and 2007.
Overall Obama’s speech claims are mostly true when examined on the surface. As you dig deeper into the facts and statistics one will find that these claims may not be in the correct context or are a tad exaggerated. However unlike other politicians it seems there is some basic research and preparation that has gone into his speech beforehand.