Donald Trump

Jeff Sessions' Immigration Lies

An ICE spokesman resigning because he "didn't feel like fabricating the truth" should be a wake-up call about the White House's factually untethered approach to immigration policy.

|

Last week in Sacramento, U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions said that because Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf gave a public warning before a recent immigration sweep, agents from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement "failed to make 800 arrests that they would have made if the mayor had not acted as she did."

This was, like so many things Sessions and his boss, President Trump, say about immigration, a lie. From sanctuary cities to voter fraud to the visa lottery system, this administration is not only bending the truth about the foreigners in our midst, but also actively basing policy on its fever dreams.

The ICE raid in question targeted around 1,000 people, leading to 232 arrests. According to reporting by The New York Times, such large-scale enforcement actions typically have a success ratio of around 30%. If that's true, the arrest deviation from the norm was about 70, not Sessions' 800.

What's more, the blanket characterization of the non-caught as "criminal aliens and public safety threats" (in the words of acting ICE director Thomas Homan) isn't accurate, either. Only half of those arrested had convictions for "serious or violent" crimes or "significant or multiple" misdemeanors, consistent with stats from previous raids. It's almost as if the people in charge of enforcing our laws are trying to scare us into giving them more power.

In a rare and clarifying moment of bureaucratic honesty, ICE San Francisco spokesman James Schwab resigned rather than go full boogeyman.

"I didn't feel like fabricating the truth to defend ourselves against [Schaaf's] actions was the way to go about it," Schwab told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We were never going to pick up that many people. To say that 100% are dangerous criminals on the street, or that those people weren't picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong."

Immigration hardliners may be asking themselves: What's the problem with a little hyperbole, especially given that politicians and government officials (including many in California) routinely dissemble and lie?

It's a good question, with an easy answer.

Any government propaganda is worth calling out, whether it's Barack Obama's "noble lie" about people being able to keep their doctors and insurance policies, or the fibs most of California's political class have told themselves over the years about the affordability of that $77.3 billion (and counting) bullet train scheduled for completion any decade now.

But what's weird about America in 2018 is that the political fables we tell about our opponents are now becoming the basis of real-world government action, frequently misguided. This is particularly true in the divisive, difficult and emotional area of immigration policy. Consider:

* Days after taking the oath of office, Trump made the factually ludicrous claim that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton in 2016. This led directly to the creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a debacle that was thankfully disbanded before it could do real harm. The voter-fraud conspiracy theorists associated with the commission, though, are now concentrating their energies on making sure the 2020 census undercounts immigrants in the country illegally by asking all recipients about their legal status for the first time since 1950. (Undercounting would lead to less political power in the House of Representatives in blue states such as California with large undocumented populations.)

* Trump has for months been campaigning to end the "diversity visa lottery," making it a condition of getting a final deal on so-called Dreamers. His description of the visa, which is granted to 50,000 people a year from low-migration countries, bears almost no resemblance to reality.

"Do you think the country is giving us their best people? No. What kind of a system is that?" he told FBI graduates in December. "They come in by lottery. They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin, but in his hand, when he's picking them is, really, the worst of the worst. Congratulations, you're going to the United States."

Actually, home-country governments don't pick their exiting populations, and the recipients have to meet education requirements and other qualifications imposed by Washington.

* Trump wants to end what he and Sessions call chain migration (family migration is the more value-neutral term), arguing in his State of the Union address that, "under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives." This description, too, is untrue: Immigrants can only bring in members of their nuclear family, through a process that is in practice quite arduous.

We expect, though should never accept, that political actors will fudge facts and straight-out make things up to persuade people and gain votes. But Trump and Sessions are more than just politicians — they are the head of the executive branch and the No. 1 law enforcement official in America, respectively, and they're weaving policy from fantasy.

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

NEXT: How Cops Hide Surveillance Snooping From Courts

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. This led directly to the creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a debacle that was thankfully disbanded before it could do real harm.

    I don’t know. Of all the bureaucracy an administration could foist on its citizens, this seems like one of the least likely to cause harm.

    1. Did it repeal the Nixon anti-libertarian Law of 1971?

      1. my Aunt Kyliyrecently got a very nice BMW X3S just by some part time working online with a computer. take a look at the site here http://www.richdeck.com

    2. I am calling out the lie that a flood of sub-normal IQ invaders is somehow good for America.

      The first “serious” crime they commit is crossing the border. It should also be their last. We don’t need a “wall”. Just use our military to defend the border. Shoot the invaders as they try to cross.

    3. Begin winning $90/hourly to work online from your home for couple of hours every day… Get customary installment on a week after week premise… All you require is a PC, web association and a litte extra time…

      Read more here…….. http://www.startonlinejob.com

  2. Actually, home-country governments don’t pick their exiting populations…

    Some of them could probably pick the ones they don’t want to give up, though, or they’re not worthy of the “shithole” moniker other world leaders are putting on them.

  3. To be sure, the law is the law and we libertarians are known for our rigid adherence to the philosophy that all laws – no matter how much we may disagree with them or with the government’s right to impose such laws – must be obeyed until such a time as the law may be changed. Heck, if you allowed people to pick and choose which laws may be legally, ethically or morally defied you’d just have anarchy and then where would we be?

    1. Way to light the John signal.

    2. The problem with holding a philosophy of picking and choosing what laws you are going to obey is that people who disagree with laws you like also get to do that. A lot of government and other individuals respecting your rights depends on them adhering to laws they think are too restrictive of them.

    3. Yes. Libertarians do find the rule of law more important to live by than rule of man.

      There are systems in place to keep bad laws from becoming law and get rid of bad laws after they are in effect.

      As has already been explained, if you ignore immigration laws then I can ignore property laws and take whatever I want from YOU. That is how rule of man works.

      1. There are systems in place to keep bad laws from becoming law and get rid of bad laws after they are in effect.

        In theory, yes. In practice, not so much.

        1. You might be right but ignoring the laws sure doesn’t help things. They remain on the books and can be used by government at their whims.

          It sucks to suffer under bad laws but at least then there might be massive support to repeal said law.

          1. If a law has no victim, then I tend to ignore it.

          2. Yeah. It’s worked so well with drug laws.

        2. Have you tried voting Libertarian? One LP spoiler vote is worth at least six votes handed to the entrenched looter kleptocracy. It’s kind of like walking into a duel where your opponent has a flintlock muzzle-loader and you have a Samuel Colt Equalizer, fully loaded. Remember those 1972 coathanger abortion laws? They were replaced by a libertarian platform plank in 1973.

        3. I agree. It takes a very few to make a stupid law and even fewer to pass it but it takes a nation of many to do away with it. That’s the problem the way I see it.

      2. Lol! So it’s politician’s magic scribbles that keep you from raping, pillaging, and murdering your neighbors and friends?

        1. We call that magic the Constitution and law derived therefrom.

    4. Eat my shorts.

    5. “We?” Keemo-sabe? The only actual libertarians tell me is that they are not keen on and do not recommend the initiation of force. Most of what the looter Kleptocracy uses to rob, murder and enslave us, it calls laws. What was the word for those people who worked against National Socialism even after their own politicians had surrendered to it?

  4. It’s almost as if the people in charge of enforcing our laws are trying to scare us into giving them more power.

    What an unsettling conclusion, Matt.
    Tis a good thing we live in the Home Homeland of the Free.

  5. I think tribalism, including anti-immigrant tribalism, is a natural result of emotional debates. That’s why the same philosophers have a reputation for being logical and universal.

    A PETA member in the UK suggested that I immigrate to the UK to avoid Trump. I asked him how long it takes for an immigrant to get citizenship in the UK, because I assumed he was making a sincere suggestion. He changed the topic a few times to avoid the question, because he did not know the answer. For him, the immigration debate was simply a way to make people in his rich, lily white, social circle feel emotions on cue. He wasn’t interested enough in immigration policy to education himself about the basics of UK immigration laws. He would rather use the words “immigrate” and “Trump” as buzz words in a failed attempt to make me feel anxious after I accidentally dispersed his anti-fur protest by phubbing his loyal followers.

    1. It is at the point where I might ask neighbors to email me a draft letter that they want me to sign and send to my representatives in Congress instead of debating with them. Most of them are virtue signalling instead of trying to change the laws.

    2. I think tribalism, especial open borders tribalism is a natural result of emotional debates.

      Luckily, the US Constitution gives immigration (after 1808) and naturalization regulation power to Congress via Article I, sections 9 & 8 respectively. Then the debate could be rational on what we as Americans want as our immigration policy.

      Luckily, we have that and its currently being enforced by the Executive Branch.

    3. If he knew anything he would have suggested Ireland instead of the UK.

    4. I publish a non-English-language blog urging naturalized Americans to vote libertarian, and begging resident aliens to donate money to libertarian party candidates! Not only will the added spoiler votes pressure the Kleptocracy to repeal un-American usurpations in These States, they will also roll back the exportation of asset-forfeiture laws that caused the Flash Crash of March 18, 2015 and sparked depressions worldwide. Blundering Beauregard has been a huge help.

  6. This is a stupid reason to resign.

    The mayor would likely see the 800 number as a victory. You aren’t defaming him.

  7. “* Trump wants to end what he and Sessions call chain migration (family migration is the more value-neutral term), arguing in his State of the Union address that, “under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” This description, too, is untrue: Immigrants can only bring in members of their nuclear family, through a process that is in practice quite arduous.”

    Matt Welch lied; Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions told the truth.

    What part of “illegal” don’t you understand?

    As for “value-neutral terms,” one cannot honestly be “value neutral” in this matter. That’s for deceivers.

    1. How did Welch lie? Immigrants can’t bring in “unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”

      1. They bring in their family, who can bring in members of their family (which are not going to be exactly the same as the original petitioner), who sponsor members of their family, etc.. this is why we still have lieole being brought here under the rules of the 1986 amnesty. ‘Unlimited’ is hyperbolic, but the sentiment is deadly accurate.

  8. the man resigned because of a lie but he didn’t bother to provide evidence of a lie. his resignation was more TDS for show then based on any thing else

    1. Remember children, if anyone accuses the Honorable Mr. President of not being fan-fucking-tastic, they are exhibiting symptoms of TDS, a mental disease that exists more in our minds than those of the afflicted.

      Mocking you aside, the spokesperson shouldn’t need to provide evidence against unsupported implausible claims. As an example, please provide evidence that it was not my personal superpower to hide illegal immigrants that prevented the agents from finding all of the immigrants. The administration provided no evidence that they could have picked up all of the immigrants (a superpower less likely than my own) and, as Reason shows, it would be unwise to expect that ability.

      1. TDS is clearly displayed when (1) the complainer has a history of only having a problem with what Trump does wrong never when Trump does something good (2) the complainer also has a history of excusing everything lefties do but when Trump does it, its the worst thing eva.

        Think of TDS as a hypocrisy label for lefties while Trump is so hated by them.

  9. (Undercounting would lead to less political power in the House of Representatives in blue states such as California with large undocumented populations.)

    Even as a pro-open-borders advocate I don’t see why this is a problem instead of they way its supposed to work.

    Why in the world would we want to up the number of politicians that aren’t accountable to most of their electorate (because most of that electorate can’t vote them out of office – or into it)?

    1. The more politicians we get, the more likely one is to attack another in the confusion, leading to a fist fight in the legislature.

      That’s all I got.

    2. Not to worry, the number of pols is capped at 435, and they only respond to their donor community anyway, which is too small of a number to guarantee their re-election (hence the need for a vast disinformation network augmented by Russian trolls and attacks on neutrality of access).

      1. Russian internet trolls stole the election from Hillary Clinton, but it’s a crazed conspiracy theory to suggest that any of the 15 million illegal immigrants in a country with no voter identification laws and no method for tracking potential voter fraud might have cast ballots in the last presidential election.

        Gary Johnson well and truly is the “best and brightest” of the libertarian set.

  10. 1. Using a lottery system to select immigrants is an absolute joke. This is obviously not in America’s best interests.

    2. Actually, it is absolutely true that a single immigration can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Sure, it may take a long time, but this has been building now for decades.

    3. While it is obvious that immigrants should come with their spouses and minor children, it is also obvious that chain migration beyond those familial relations not in America’s best interest, as a more merit-based selection would be.

    4. High levels of immigration are nothing more than a giveaway to wealthy interests and big business, at the expense of middle and lower class Americans, i.e. the American people generally. We are currently at an all-time high level of immigrants and are due for a cutback, particularly to unskilled immigration.

    5. Liars falsely accuse anyone who supports common sense immigration policies of being “racist against brown people.” But in reality, black Americans and Hispanic Americans are more in favor of reducing immigration levels than whites are.

  11. I appreciate Jerry Beauregard Sessions’ role as the fall guy. What better way to let Trump off the hook to bad Gee Oh Pee Platform planks? God’s Own Prohibitionists routinely recycle planks from the Prohibition Party dustbin (Coathanger Abortion Amendment, death to potheads, tariff protectionism, sumptuary prohibitionism). It was brilliant of The Don (Libertarianism? “I like it!”) to choose this Alabama moron as poster-child-with-guns to ram that crap down the throats of voters who wanted to keep electricity safe and legal. I’m guessing the LP can get at least another 3% of the individual-cast ballot total next election, thanks to Beauregard’s blunders!

  12. This piece of crap is no more believable than the left wing sources used to support it.

  13. By Jorge! Its time to tell some trut ! We need dem furrners! Dey are all rocket scientists and brillian people who never commit no crimes! California belong to Mexico, anyway. The border should be open. So should welfare everything free!

  14. “The ICE raid in question targeted around 1,000 people, leading to 232 arrests. According to reporting by The New York Times, such large-scale enforcement actions typically have a success ratio of around 30%. If that’s true, the arrest deviation from the norm was about 70, not Sessions’ 800.”
    There are several confusions here:
    1. The arrest deviation on the 1,000 people ‘targeted’ is 68 (say 70).
    2. Assume that 1,000 people from the presumed criminal population were randomly sampled. We’ll also assume that the 800 forewarned were not included in that sample due to the Mayor’s warning. Thus an additional 800 could have been included in the total population. This gives a total of 1800 to be sampled from. 800 appears in the population at a rate of 800/1800=44%.
    3. In a random sample 44% of 1000 is 440. At an arrest rate of 30% that’s 132 who evaded capture.
    Both Sessions and the author here are in error. The author wrongly assumes the arrest deviation is 30%-23.2% of the sample which doesn’t include the evaders.

  15. “The tip off against the ICE raid didn’t prevent the arrest of hundreds of criminals, it only prevented the arrest of dozens of criminals, which is totally great!”

  16. Too many writers at Reason support the socialist view of open borders under which public property in the U.S. is public to the world and not just to the U.S. public that has maintained and created pubic property (in use) with their money

    In short, the view most people have/had of illegal immigration as trespassing was the correct view – regardless of the U.S. policies on it.

    For the above reason, I do not take Reason’s articles on the subject with great suspicion.

    1. You mean you DO take Reason’s articles on this with great suspicion. I do too.

  17. It’s not “boogeyman,” it’s bogeyman.

  18. Foreigners? Is that what they are? Welch just can’t say illegal migrants AND visa overstays AND temporary protection status AND other fabrications for status done by our Congress.

  19. 70 or 800 arrest is differnt..
    But the Mayor did warn up to 800 criminal aliens of a pending ICE raid, and for this she should be jailed.
    How darn she put officers at risk to warn criminals, as bad or worst, then a lookout at a bank heist.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.