How Many of Trump’s Border Wall Claims Are True?

An aerial view of President Donald Trump‘s border wall prototypes as seen from Tijuana, in Baja California state, Mexico, on January 7th, 2019.

On Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump will give a national address, aired on primetime television, “on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border,” as he announced in a tweet on Monday morning.

Unlike other presidential addresses—for instance, President Barack Obama‘s announcement that United States forces had assassinated Osama bin Laden—Trump‘s address does not come in response to any specific news development. Rather, many see the address as an attempt to raise public relations pressure on Democrats in Congress as the federal government shutdown drags onward through its third week. Trump has said he will not sign any funding bill to reopen the government unless Congress grants him over $5.7 billion in funds dedicated to building a wall—or, rather, some kind of barrier—along the U.S.–Mexico border. In his address, Trump will make his latest case for the construction of the wall by arguing that the situation on the border presents a crisis that threatens all Americans.

This address almost did not happen: When the White House announced to news networks that the president wanted the airwaves for a national address, many network executives wavered over the decision to grant the president uninterrupted airtime for an explicitly political speech. (In 2014, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS refused to give time to then-President Obama for a speech on immigration—both due to political concerns, but also because it would cut into primetime television shows’ time slots.)

The Trump camp, however, contends that this speech is not explicitly political, but rather a response to a very real “national security” crisis on the border. Along with drugs and illegal immigrants, the president (and his press secretary and the secretary of homeland security) have claimed that there are “terrorists” pouring across the border.

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