Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump’s campaign aired a new television ad during Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night.
The 30-second spot, which Trump also tweeted, accurately listed some of the accomplishments of Trump’s tenure. But it also included a claim about illegal immigration that is highly misleading at best.
Illegal immigration hasn’t been cut in half
After touting some of Trump’s actual accomplishments since he took office — we’ll get to those in a moment — the ad said Trump is “cutting illegal immigration in half.”
Trump has not come even close to cutting illegal immigration to half of the level he had inherited.
“Overall, irregular migration is up since President Trump took office, not down,” said Julia Gelatt, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.
Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told reporters in early October, “As we’ve been expressing for some time now, this past fiscal year, CBP has faced unprecedented and staggering levels of illegal crossings.”
So what is the ad talking about?
In summary: it is touting a 50% decline from the highest point of Trump’s own presidency.
In small type, the ad attributes the “cutting illegal immigration in half” claim to a Fox News segment from September. In that segment, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of the Citizenship and Immigration Service, said, “We’re down more than 50% since May, in just three months.”
The choice of May as a baseline was not a coincidence. That month, the number of people apprehended and deemed inadmissible at the southwest border — which is used as a proxy for the level of illegal immigration — hit 144,116, by far the highest of any month under Trump.
Cuccinelli was right. In August and again in September, the number of people apprehended and deemed inadmissible was less than half of the May figure: 62,707 in August and 52,546 in September.
But the total number of people apprehended or deemed inadmissible for the 2019 fiscal year was 977,509. That’s the highest number since 2007 and 77% higher than the 553,378 figure for the 2016 fiscal year, President Barack Obama’s last full fiscal year in office.