CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Los Angeles Times‘ Melanie Mason reports that immigration statistics cited by Donald Trump during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention were “basically right,” even if immigration is “flat overall.”
Mason’s verification came on the heels of confirmation by another Times reporter, Seema Mehta, that Trump’s crime numbers were “mostly accurate,” though Mehta went on to argue that “his conclusions are a stretch.”
The enterprise of “fact-checking,” a relatively recent phenomenon, attempts to inform readers and viewers about whether claims made by political candidates about the state of the world are actually true. In theory, fact-checking is meant to keep politicians honest, and guide public debate toward reasoned conclusions about policy, and prevent hyperbolic, divisive debates fueled by misinformation.
In practice, “fact-checking” makes debates more contentious by defending liberals and undermine conservatives on a partisan, not factual, basis — largely because the “fact-checking” is done by liberal publications.
In this case, Mason notes:
Here’s what Trump contended in his nomination speech: “The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015.”
Trump is essentially correct here. According to statistics from the U.S. Border Patrol, around 51,000 families — consisting of at least one child accompanied by at least one adult — have crossed the border since the beginning of the 2016 fiscal year, which started last October.
However, since no correct fact cited by a Republican can apparently be allowed to stand unchallenged, Mason adds: “Overall, however, the number of people living in the country illegally has essentially leveled out since 2007.” The implication is that Trump is making an issue out of a non-issue.