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By Anthony Cave April 1, 2016

Donald Trump's Pants on Fire claim the U.S. funds undocumented immigrants coming over the border

Donald Trump bemoaned the $19 trillion national debt before launching into an attack on an expansive federal budget bill during a rally in Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Referring to a spending bill known as the "omnibus," Trump said March 19. "It funds Obamacare, it funds Syrians coming into the United States, we have no idea who they are, it funds illegal immigrants coming in and through your border, right through Phoenix."

President Barack Obama signed the omnibus, a $1.1 trillion federal spending bill, in December. The catch-all bill funds the federal government through Sept. 30, 2016.

The type of expenditures vary quite a bit, covering benefit extensions for 9/11 first-responders and an increase in research dollars for the National Institutes of Health. The bill lumps together multiple spending bills.

At PolitiFact Arizona, we were most interested in Trump’s claim that the omnibus "funds illegal immigrants coming in and through your border, right through Phoenix."

The Trump campaign didn’t respond to our request for comment.

Maybe because that’s because Trump is wrong.

The omnibus bill does not fund undocumented immigrants "coming in and through" the border. In fact, it funds the very agency tasked with keeping undocumented immigrants out, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"The salary of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is contained in that bill," said Scott Lilly, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress. "If they weren’t funded, they’d have to stop patrolling."

What Trump could have meant -- though it’s not what he said -- is that undocumented immigrants in the United States may be benefitting from subsidies such as food stamps through their children. But again, that’s not what he said.

"There’s not ...a budget item for illegal immigration," said Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the free-market Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Featured Fact-check

Obamacare, Syrians entering the U.S.

This fact-check focuses on Trump's claim about undocumented immigrants. But since he also mentioned Obamacare and funding "Syrians coming into the United States," we thought it might be useful to address those claims as well.

Most of the spending associated with President Barack Obama’s signature health care is mandatory spending and not part of the omnibus. But the omnibus did include relatively small amounts of discretionary spending, which includes services such as community health clinics. The bill also funded the Health and Human Services Department, which received $75.2 billion.

De Rugy said the bill pays for "only a little" of the Affordable Care Act, namely administrative costs.

The omnibus provides humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in Jordan. The bill also funds refugees, in general, settling in the United States. It does not specifically fund Syrian refugees.

"Those restrictions were left out of the omnibus. You’re funding the normal immigration process," said Josh Gordon, policy director at the centrist Concord Coalition, which advocates for eliminating budget deficits.

Dartmouth College government professor Joseph Bafumi noted that these refugees "could be Syrian."

According to the U.S. State Department, 1,682 Syrians entered the United States as of Dec. 31, 2015. Still, that’s less than 3 percent of the 69,933 total refugees admitted to the United States for fiscal year 2015.

Our ruling

Trump criticized the "omnibus" spending bill passed by Congress and signed by Obama in December, saying it "funds illegal immigrants coming in and through your border, right through Phoenix," among other things.

That’s wrong. It actually funds the agency trying to keep people from crossing the border illegally.

Trump’s claim is wildly wrong. We rate it Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Donald Trump, "Remarks during a Fountain Hills, Ariz. rally," March 19, 2016

ABC15, "Former Mexican president uses strong language against Trump’s wall," Feb. 25, 2016

ABC15, "Three protesters arrested at Donald Trump Fountain Hills rally," March 19, 2016, "H.R. 2029 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016" accessed March 30, 2016

USA Today, "President Obama signs massive spending bill, tax measures into law," Dec. 18, 2015

The Washington Post, "How Congress paid for Obamacare (in two charts)," Aug. 30, 2012

The Washington Post, "Obamacare starts next week, whether the government shuts down or not," Sept. 23, 2013

Women’s Policy, Inc., "Congress clears Omnibus spending bill," accessed March 30, 2016

U.S. Department of State, "FY15 Refugee Admissions Statistics," accessed March 31, 2016

Senate Appropriations Committee, "FY2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill Omnibus Agreement Summary," accessed April 1, 2016

Interview with Mercatus Center senior research fellow Veronique de Rugy, March 23, 2016

Interview with Concord Coalition policy director Josh Gordon, March 23, 2016

Interview with Center for American Progress senior fellow Scott Lilly, March 31, 2016

Interview with Dartmouth College government professor Joseph Bafumi, March 31, 2016

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Donald Trump's Pants on Fire claim the U.S. funds undocumented immigrants coming over the border

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