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Mexico’s immigration policies: Trump makes assertions; WaPo finds the facts

I don’t claim to know, on a case-by-case or on an overall basis, whether and how often President Donald Trump says so many things that are false because he thinks they are true, and how often he engages in what we would normally call “lying.” I think it matters, but I’m not sure how much. If he wanted to cut down on the constant stream of falsehoods, he would only have to care about factual accuracy, and with the resources available to him in his current job, he could cut way, way down on the combination of ignorance and mendacity.

That he doesn’t care, that he sees no fundamental benefit in telling, or even trying to tell, the truth to the nation over which he presides — and the fact that it seems to cost him nothing with his “base,” as measured by his bad-but-incredibly-stable approval ratings — borders on an existential crisis for a factual-accuracy nerd like me.

With that intro, here is Salvador Rizzo of the Washington Post’s fact-checking team, illuminating those who care on the best available version of the facts, as opposed to the many ignorant or intentional falsehoods Trump uttered recently on the subject of Mexico and its policies regarding illegal immigration.

In case you don’t click through to get the full treatment, here’s a quick summary. Trump claimed that Mexico — which he bizarrely claimed has on its book the strongest immigration laws in the world but has refused to enforce them — has, as a result of his threats to be mean to them if they didn’t shape up, suddenly begun detaining record numbers of would-be border crossers, heading through Mexico from Central America on their way to the United States. Writes Rizzo:

Trump says Mexico began to detain thousands of Central American migrants at its southern border only this week. Let’s not beat around the bush here — that’s totally false. They’ve been doing it for decades.

The president also claims Mexico has the strongest immigration laws in the world. Experts sharply disagree. Mexico does have penalties for immigration violations, but it decriminalized the act of crossing the border in 2011. Contrast that with the United States — where unauthorized entry is a misdemeanor for first-time offenders and a felony for repeat offenders — and Trump’s claim falls apart.

The full Post Fact-Checker piece is here.

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/04/2019 - 10:08 pm.

    Wake me up on the day when Trump issues thoughtful plans based on fact and reason. 😴

    On that day I also expect winged pigs and dancing sparkle unicorns. 😅

    His incoherence, flailing and flip-flopping are an international embarrassment and have diminished the influence and stature of the US.😥

    Anyone see emojis?

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/05/2019 - 08:28 am.

    Not being a clinically-trained psychologist, I’m not sure if it’s the proper term or not, but if Mr. Trump is not a “pathological liar,” he is at least a “habitual liar.”

    I’ve known people for whom being “right” is a kind of offshoot of what I’ve called in the past “The illusion of central position.” Characteristic of small children, it’s essentially the belief that the world revolves around you, your desires, your concerns. In effect, you’re the only person who counts. Toddlers often display this mindset until they become a bit more socialized. A much milder version of this is simply “selfishness” as it’s commonly understood, but – in an attempt to be clear – the illusion of central position takes “selfishness” to a whole new and unhealthy level.

    Mr. Trump displays that new and unhealthy level more or less daily. If he has admitted in public any kind of error since he became a presidential candidate, I confess I can’t remember it. And a big part of why I’m not sure whether his constant lying is “pathological” or merely “habitual” is because it’s often hard for me to tell whether the day’s lies are malignant or malicious in intent, or whether they’re simply part of the emotional fantasy world he’s built up around himself – one in which he’s never wrong, never makes a mistake, etc.

    A third possibility, of course, demonstrated by his repeated use of the word “oranges” rather than “origins” a few days ago, may simply be that, like a lot of elderly people, his mental capacity is diminishing. Creeping senility is not an automatic side effect of advancing age, but it’s common enough that I don’t think it ought to be ruled out in Trump’s case.

    • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 04/05/2019 - 01:35 pm.

      I think your toddler comment explains a whole lot about Trump and his family. I don’t believe Trump was ever been properly socialized. You can see that problem exhibited in his kids too. I have concerns, due to his age, about Barron. I have never see that child smile. I can’t imagine what his life is like being surrounded by the rest of the family all the time. Trump is beyond redemption.

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/05/2019 - 09:20 am.

    Another day, another Trump lie.

    It’s hardly worth reporting anymore.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/05/2019 - 09:31 am.

    Days like this I feel sorry for Eric Black and his colleagues. We have this liar and chief in the Oval office who’s behavior simply cannot be ignored, yet reporting on his constant barrage of dishonesty, duplicity, and ignorance MUST be one the most tedious responsibilities in the world. I’m glad I don’t have to do it, but I’m also glad that someone else IS doing it.

  5. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 04/05/2019 - 11:51 am.

    Following the link leads to another link on the practices and procedures of WAPO fact checking and another beyond that on fact checking in general.

    Two things standout:

    1. Trump has inspired new levels of integrity and thoroughness in the fact checking community.

    2. He and his could care less about the truth. And worse yet, they seem to not have any depth of comprehension of the role of truth in every aspect of our lives.

    If diagnosed with cancer they would likely not accept aspirin as a sure fire cure and demand a course of treatment that follows the most widely accepted scientific fact. Replace cancer with any political issue of the day and not only would aspirin be accepted, things with chicken feathers and rooster beaks would find their way to plausibility….

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/06/2019 - 09:02 am.

      “1. Trump has inspired new levels of integrity and thoroughness in the fact checking community.”

      Absolutely! And he’s also dragged many in the media kicking and screaming out of their bipartisan comfort zones of pseudo-balance and pretentious equivalency.

      Although folks like Eric obviously still feel the need to preface their articles with unnecessary “disclosures” and qualifiers. It doesn’t really matter why so many of Trump’s statements are dishonest and factually wrong. There is probably no single explanation for ALL of his dishonesty beyond the obvious and incontrovertible fact that he is simply a dishonest person.

      In any case, whether dishonesty flows out of mere disregard for the truth or deliberate deceit, these are different types of lies that both share the common goal of deceit. Honest people practicing integrity simply don’t disregard the truth.

  6. Submitted by John Evans on 04/05/2019 - 01:08 pm.

    So tedious! What role is there for journalism in a fact-free environment? The fact-checkers spend all their time putting on their pants, while the lies fly round the mediashpere and distract us from the facts, which aught to be the real story. It’s a losing game.

    A concise, balanced, factual account might say, “The President changed his mind Wednesday and decided not to close the border with Mexico after all, making up several vile, transparent lies to justify his flip-flop.”

    And just leave it at that. Why report the lies, when you’ll only have to waste column inches in refuting them? It’s a distraction. The lies aren’t news anymore; they’re mostly there to compete with the facts. The facts of the story are the news, so just report them and don’t pay so much attention to the lies.

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/05/2019 - 03:56 pm.

    A good article by Paul Krugman in today’s NYTimes about how Trump is literally killing people.

  8. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/07/2019 - 10:28 pm.

    The firing of Kirstjen Nielson to pursue a “tougher course” should have everyone up in arms–we’re already past the point of Geneva Convention defined war crime acts with the separation of families.

    Have you noticed that the 2 year time-line to return children neatly fits into the post-election time frame?

    Children kidnapped, abused and mistreated by the GOP for political purposes.

    Scum. Irredeemable scum.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/08/2019 - 09:25 am.

      These routine violations of international law by US officials and presidents won’t be curtailed until some of these people end up in the dock somewhere. Trump may well be diminishing US influence to the point where somebody will actually have the guts to issue arrest warrants. With any luck folks like Nielson will have to consult their lawyers before leaving the county (ala Kissinger) in the future for fear of falling into “hostile” jurisdiction.

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