Donald Trump has been regularly dishonest in making his case for a suddenly, urgently needed “border wall.” He’s been regularly dishonest about everything else, too, but his efforts to portray asylum-seeking refugee families and other immigrants as an existential danger to the nation and to his lily-white base have been particularly pointed, possibly with the assistance of a certain Stephen Miller—and last night’s State of the Union address was no exception to the rule.
One particular lie on Trump’s part, however, isn’t sitting well with the residents of the border city of El Paso, Texas. Trump claimed in his speech that:
“The border city of El Paso, Tex., used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the entire country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country.”
This is, on Trump’s part, gibberish. El Paso has never had “one of the highest” violent crime rates in the country, according to the fact checkers. And while El Paso’s crime rate indeed dropped (as did crime nationwide) during the same period, it did not drop because of the construction of a “powerful” new border wall. The drop in crime rate happened before that wall was ever built. (If anything, it ticked slightly upward in the years surrounding the new fence’s construction.)
So Trump and his administration are just outright lying on this one. It’s gaslighting, through and through. Among those particularly peeved about that is El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles, who gave a statement to NBC News after Trump’s claims.