Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post erroneously its their new “Bottomless Pinocchio” rating to dispute the importance of securing our southern border to stem the flow of illicit drugs in the country. In a “fact check” article about negotiations between the President and congressional leaders, at a time when tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year of drug overdoses, the Post’s “fact checkers” suggest that Americans shouldn’t be concerned about the national public health and safety emergency caused by illicit drugs coming across our insecure border.

In particular, WaPo takes issue with the president’s claim that “We have to have the wall.  This isn’t a question; this is a national emergency. Drugs are pouring into our country.”

“This is another case of Trump repeating things debunked long ago,” write the Post’s Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly “The president recently received a Bottomless Pinocchio for his claim that the wall would stop drugs from ‘pouring in.’”

Rizzo and Kelly argue that because many drug seizures occur at legal ports of entry, a border wall won’t have much impact. Yet a wall is one component of the President’s multi-front strategy to secure Americans from a drug onslaught. As new data from the Centers For Disease Control shows U.S. life expectancy is getting shorter as drug overdoses and suicides continue to rise, controlling the border is a public safety issue. From October 2017 through July 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 6,423 pounds of cocaine, 532 pounds of heroin, 439,531 pounds of marijuana, 10,382 pounds of methamphetamine, and 332 pounds of fentanyl.

The Washington Post’s Rizzo and Kelly suggest that we are not experiencing a border crisis because “fewer people are ‘pouring into our country’” than were illegally entering in 2000.

“Generally speaking, fewer people are ‘pouring into our country,’” write Rizzo and Kelly. “The number of people apprehended crossing the southern border is a fraction of what it was in 2000.”

Yet Rizzo and Kelly leave out important data about the difference between illegal entrants in 2000 and illegal entrants attempting to enter the country today. While it is true that daily numbers of illegal immigration into the United States were higher in FY2000, there has been a dramatic transformation in the population of those seeking to enter our country illegally.

In 2000, CBP was primarily apprehending single adults, who could be quickly repatriated. In FY2000, 95 percent of illegal entrants were repatriated within hours of their apprehension. By contrast, today—as a result of loopholes in current U.S. immigration law— CBP is experiencing an illegal influx of minors and adults traveling with minors. In FY2018, nearly half of all illegal migrants apprehended by CBP were family units or unaccompanied minors (i.e. individuals for whom DHS cannot deliver legal consequences and who are instead released into the U.S. interior). This means that whereas previously almost all illegal migrants apprehended in 2000 were returned home, now, as a result of these loopholes, when illegal alien minors or adults traveling with minors unlawfully enter the United States, rather than being detained and removed, they are released into American communities. Once released, they are rarely ever removed.

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