Stand up for the facts!

Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Fact-checking sanctuary city, immigration claims
Hundreds of people marched in Austin on Feb. 28, 2017 against what participants described as the hate, xenophobia and nativism showing up in legislative priorities set by state leaders (Ralph Barrera, Austin American-Statesman). Hundreds of people marched in Austin on Feb. 28, 2017 against what participants described as the hate, xenophobia and nativism showing up in legislative priorities set by state leaders (Ralph Barrera, Austin American-Statesman).

Hundreds of people marched in Austin on Feb. 28, 2017 against what participants described as the hate, xenophobia and nativism showing up in legislative priorities set by state leaders (Ralph Barrera, Austin American-Statesman).

By W. Gardner Selby April 25, 2017

Texas House members, poised to debate legislation to bar local police agencies from not identifying unauthorized immigrants, might not be up to speed on PolitiFact’s latest fact checks related to immigration and so-called sanctuary cities.

We’ve got seven fact checks to pass along:

It’s True, as President Donald Trump recently said, that illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border is at a 17-year low, according to the most widely cited metric.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data shows that in March, agents made 12,193 apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border--and that’s the lowest count in at least 17 years, according to posted figures dating back to fiscal 2000.

Apprehension data is generally used as a metric to measure illegal immigration.

Apprehensions at the southwest border peaked in 2000 at 1.6 million (yearly total) but began a declining trend during the 2008-09 recession that has continued since.

In February, PolitiFact found Mostly True a Democrat’s claim that apprehension rates at the southern border have plummeted since the 1980s with apprehensions of Mexicans reaching their lowest point in nearly half a century.

In recent years, average apprehension numbers have been below 500,000. In the 1980s, they averaged 1 million. A nonpartisan think tank found that the number of apprehensions of Mexicans in fiscal 2015 was the lowest since 1969.

PolitiFact Texas in March found False a declaration by Gov. Greg Abbott that Travis County was refusing to enforce a federal law requiring communities to cooperate with immigration authorities.

Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez this year put in place a policy against automatically granting federal requests to detain immigrants. The policy also forbids personnel from enforcing immigration laws. On the other hand, it further specifies that nothing in it is intended to stop employees from providing information to immigration officials regarding the legal residency status of individuals in accord with the law singled out by Abbott.

PolitiFact Texas earlier rated Mostly True Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s claim that local authorities in 43 states had refused to honor more than 16,000 detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement from October 2013 to December 2015--his point being that the Travis County policy against automatically granting detention requests wasn’t out of line.

Our look into this statement showed that nearly all ICE detainer requests had been honored nationally and most of the local refusals stressed by Adler occurred in a handful of states--none of them Texas.

Earlier, Attorney General Jeff Sessions drew a Mostly False rating for his claim that the solicitor general in President Barack Obama’s Justice Department found that sanctuary city policies violate federal law.

A memo from the inspector general raised questions about how local officials were interpreting and applying ordinances limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Yet the memo also said a formal legal determination on whether certain state and local laws or policies violate a key federal law requiring cooperation with federal immigration authorities hadn’t been made by federal officials.

In March, PolitiFact Florida rated True a claim that "undocumented" immigrants in the country have constitutional rights.

Unauthorized immigrants have many constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and religion. Still, they don’t share all the constitutional rights of citizens. For example, some undocumented immigrants in removal proceedings have not gotten due process in court, and they don’t have a right to a government-paid lawyer in immigration court.

PolitiFact Florida separately found Mostly True a claim that unlawful presence in the U.S. is not a crime. The simple act of being in the United States illegally is not, by itself, a crime. Rather, it’s a civil violation that puts the individual at risk for deportation. But it’s also worth noting that someone who is unlawfully present might have committed a related crime by entering the U.S. after having been deported, for instance, or entering in an illegal manner.

Hear or see a claim that merits a fact check? Write us at [email protected] .

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by W. Gardner Selby

Fact-checking sanctuary city, immigration claims