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.