Tonight on Fox News Sunday, anchor Chris Wallace interviewed White House press secretary Sarah Sanders about Trump’s ongoing border wall fiasco. Sanders has a lot of practice repeating talking points about how scary immigrants are destroying America. But tonight, for once, she faced some pushback on her claims.
After clarifying that Trump would indeed be willing to shut down the government for “years” in his attempt to build a border wall, Sanders trotted out a typically absurd Trump administration claim: that “thousands” of potential terrorists are coming into the U.S. over the southern border.
Wallace played a clip of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson repeating this lie at a press conference this week.
“CBP has stopped over 3,000 what we call special interest aliens trying to come into the country on the southern border. Those are aliens who the Intel community has identified are of concern,” Nielson said in the clip.
Wallace pointed out that this is, you know, not true.
“But special interest aliens are just people who have come from countries that have ever produced a terrorist, they’re not terrorists themselves,” Wallace said.
“The state department says, quote, ‘there was no credible evidence of any terrorist coming across the border from Mexico,” he added, citing a government report from September.
Sanders responded by flatly repeating the claim.
“We know that roughly nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally, and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is southern border,” she said, before Wallace cut her off.
“I know the statistic, I didn’t know if you were going to use it, but I studied up on this,” Wallace said. “Do you know what those 4,000 people come where they are captured? Airports.”
“Not always,” Sanders replied, clearly grasping. “It’s by air it’s by land it’s by sea, it’s all of the above, but one thing that you’re forgetting is at the most vulnerable point of entry that we have into this country is our southern border. You have to protect it, and the more and more that individuals know that....”
“But they’re not coming across the southern border, Sarah, they’re coming and they’re being stopped at airports,” Wallace said.
Sanders made one last attempt to stand her ground.
“They’re coming a number of ways, they’re certainly, I’m not disagreeing with you that they’re coming through airports,” she responded. “I’m saying that they come by air by land and by sea, and the more and more that our border becomes vulnerable and the less and less that we spend time and money protecting it the more that we’re going to have an influx, not just of terrorists, but of human traffickers and drug inflow.”
She did not note how many terrorists are coming by dirigible or submarine.
Sanders isn’t the only Trump administration official who has knowingly misrepresented facts about immigration. On Thursday, the government admitted to making “errors” in a report connecting immigration to terrorism, yet refused to correct them.
None of this should come as a surprise. To justify shutting down the government to fund an enormously expensive, useless border wall, you better have an argument to back it up. This can be slightly problematic if there are no facts to support your stance. Thankfully, Trump’s administration has figured out the answer: just make them up.