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FACT CHECK: GOP Senator “Misrepresented” & “Exaggerated” Data in Hearing to Push Republicans’ Bogus “Border Crisis” Narrative

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Newly Updated Report Lays Out The Truth: “Significantly fewer people are being admitted into the United States and placed into normal deportation proceedings when compared to 2019”

Washington, DC – Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) picked up the mantle of Republican disinformation about the border yesterday at a hearing on migrant children. Referring to the Biden administration, Johnson said, “I often say the first step in solving any problem is admitting you have one. And it just seemed like we’re an utter state of denial,” reported The Hill. His comment turned out to be much more relevant for himself.

In the hearing, Sen. Johnson attempted to invent a “border crisis” created by President Biden by relying on chart he created that experts said, “misrepresented the number of immigrants detained at the border between the spring of 2020 and early 2021” and “exaggerated the magnitude of the surge in apprehensions after President Biden’s inauguration.”

As Aaron Reichlin-Melnick of the American Immigration Council assessed on Twitter, “How deceptive was the chart that @RonJohnsonWI and @SenatorRomney displayed at today’s hearing on migrant children? I mapped out the missing data to show you what the chart “mysteriously” left out—a trend of rising border encounters that began months before Biden took office.”

For years, Republicans have used the border as an excuse to oppose popular bills that put millions of undocumented immigrants on pathways to citizenship. This is just the latest episode in an endless effort to politicize the issue and cherry-pick the data to their partisan advantage.

A report updated and reissued yesterday from the American Immigration Council laid out the facts:

Key Excerpts

  • “While much of the national conversation in early 2021 focused on a supposed surge in arrivals under the Biden administration, the roots of trends began months—and in some cases years—before President Biden took office.
  • “In spring 2020, COVID-19-related lockdowns spread economic chaos across Mexico and Latin America. At the same time, the United States shut its borders to all asylum seekers and President Trump instituted the practice of expelling individuals encountered at the border under public health authority allegedly provided by Title 42 of the U.S. Code. Under Title 42, any single adult or family crossing the border from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador were immediately sent back to Mexico without a deportation order, even if they were seeking asylum.”
  • “Title 42 has not only had a severely negative effect on asylum seekers, it has also led to an increase in people crossing the border more than once, an effect acknowledged by DHS officials. Almost immediately after lockdowns lifted across Mexico and Central America, the number of single adults coming to the border seeking to enter the United States began rising rapidly, from a low of 14,754 in April 2020 to 62,041 in December 2020.”
  • “Significantly fewer people are being admitted into the United States and placed into normal deportation proceedings when compared to 2019, even when considering the increased numbers of single adults and a record number of unaccompanied children.”
  • “These policies, which focused only on deterrence without providing any additional capacity to process humanitarian protections, have not worked in the long-term. They temporarily suppressed arrivals, but the push factors in home countries and drivers of migration have remained. Within a few years of each punitive policy’s implementation, there was another increase in people coming to the border. What is happening under Biden is neither unique nor unprecedented.”

Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice said: 

The ‘Biden Border Crisis’ narrative is losing steam, even in Foxlandia, so Republican lawmakers are resorting to making stuff up and misrepresenting the data. It is clear they are not actually interested in border management, protecting unaccompanied minors seeking refuge or genuinely working in a bipartisan manner to craft the meaningful immigration reform the American people want. It looks increasingly like Democrats are on their own to deliver on modernizing our immigration system as Republicans spend their time showboating at hearings or literally showboating in photo-ops in armed patrol boats on the border.