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Photo: Carlos Barria-Pool/Getty Images

In a national address from the Oval Office Tuesday night, President Trump defended his demand for a wall on the southern border with Mexico by claiming unauthorized immigrants bring crime and drugs into the U.S. at devastating levels.

Reality check: The majority of immigrants arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection have had no criminal history. The vast majority of opioids seized at the border, meanwhile, come through legal ports of entry.

Between the lines: Trump cited data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency that has historically designated immigrants with criminal records as a priority for arrests. Some 66% of the immigrants arrested by ICE had been convicted of crimes, according to their most recent report. But at the border, where Trump wants to erect a border wall, the number of criminals arrested is significantly lower.

  • As of Aug. 31, 361,993 immigrants had been apprehended by CBP in FY 2018, but only 6,259 — or 1.7% — had a prior criminal record, according to CBP data.
  • Of those, more than 3,600 convictions were for illegal entry or reentry into the U.S. and more than a thousand for driving under the influence. There were only three convictions of manslaughter and 506 for assault, battery or domestic violence.

Trump’s claim about ICE arrests was a close approximation, according to ICE data.

  • He said 266,000 immigrants with criminal records have been arrested over the past two years, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 “violent killings.”
    • ICE enforces immigration law inside the U.S., while CBP enforces immigration at the borders.
  • The most common crimes committed by immigrants arrested by ICE are non-violent crimes such as DUIs, other traffic violations or immigration-related offenses, which could include illegal entry.
  • When it comes to drug trafficking, Mexico is indeed a significant source for illegal and at times deadly drugs, especially heroin, as Trump claimed. But the vast majority of opioids confiscated by CBP come through legal ports of entry — something a border wall would not prevent.

The bottom line: It is accurate that some unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. have committed violent crimes and that drug trade at the border has stirred violence and impacted American lives. But studies have found that immigrants in the U.S. are overall less likely to commit crimes or end up in prison than native-born Americans.

Go deeper

NRA files for bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for voluntary bankruptcy as part of a restructuring plan.

Driving the news: The gun rights group said it would reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment." Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.

A new Washington

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Image

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city should expect a "new normal" for security — even after President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The state of play: Inaugurations are usually a point of celebration in D.C., but over 20,000 troops are now patrolling Washington streets in an unprecedented preparation for Biden's swearing-in on Jan. 20.