In a series of tweets over the weekend and Monday morning, President Donald Trump made claims about immigration policy; border security; the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program; and the debate in Congress. Roll Call fact-checked some of Trump’s assertions, many of which are not true.
Claim: DACA is “dead.”
Trump first announced his intention to end DACA last September, and ordered the Homeland Security Department to begin winding the program down in early March. But two federal judges have blocked his efforts, leaving the program largely intact and keeping about 700,000 young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” in limbo.
DHS isn’t accepting new applications, but it is renewing existing benefits for Dreamers brought to the U.S. illegally as children. That’s likely to remain the case until the legal challenges are resolved or Congress legislates a permanent solution for DACA beneficiaries. Ongoing appeals are expected to take months, and the case could end up before the Supreme Court.
Claim: DACA is “dead” because Democrats “didn’t care or act.”
Members of both parties have offered proposals to solve the current crisis. Democrats have tended to make a solution for Dreamers the centerpiece of proposals in exchange for border security improvements. Trump and congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have demanded steep concessions in return for helping Dreamers, including cuts to legal immigration, punishment for so-called sanctuary cities and billions of dollars for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Democrats and Republicans worked together in February to reach a workable compromise that could garner the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate. One proposal to grant citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for border security and other immigration priorities brokered by Sens. Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican, and Angus King, a Maine independent, got 54 votes. Trump’s proposal, on the other hand, only received 39. Fourteen Republicans voted against the Trump proposal.
House GOP leadership, meanwhile, has not scheduled a floor vote on a bill by Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte that is backed by conservatives.
Claim: Migrants heading for the United States are doing so to “take advantage” of DACA.
To qualify for DACA, a Dreamer must meet strict criteria. Namely, the applicant must have been living in the United States since 2007 and arrived before his or her sixteenth birthday, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. There are other requirements, too, including that an applicant be enrolled in school or hold a high school diploma, or be serving in the armed forces. The applicant also can’t have been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor.
Claim: The Senate must use the “nuclear option” to pass border security legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said he would not end the legislative filibuster and allow bills to be passed with a simple majority. The Kentucky Republican told USA TODAY last April that the filibuster is “the core of the Senate.” Trump’s opponents have pointed out that, even with a 51-vote threshold, his proposal would have fallen well short of passage.
Claim: “Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release.”
DHS procedures known as “catch and release” are merely protocols, not laws. Congress has granted the department significant discretion in how to enforce federal immigration laws. Because of human trafficking and asylum laws, as well as limited resources that only allow for roughly 400,000 deportations each year, many undocumented immigrants crossing the border are detained, given a notice to appear in immigration court and then released into the United States. The protocols have been used by Republican and Democratic administrations, including Trump’s.
Claim: There are “caravans” of Central Americans heading for the United States border.
Trump’s tweets came following a Fox News report on a caravan of more than 1,000 Central Americans, mostly from Honduras, currently traveling north through Mexico. Such caravans are not new, and there are international organizations that help facilitate the trips. Many of the migrants plan to make it to the United States, turn themselves in to Border Patrol and apply for asylum because they fear gang violence in their home countries, according to the caravan’s organizers.