Trump's Homeland Security Chief Made a Questionable Claim About Immigration From Central America, and Politifact Just Clapped Back

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks on migrant children being separated from parents at the southern border during a White House daily news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House June 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Nielsen joined White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders at the daily news briefing to answer questions from members of the White House Press Corps. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Last Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claimed that billboards in Central America were encouraging those looking to emigrate to the United States to do so illegally.

During an interview with NBC’s Peter Alexander at the Aspen Security Forum, Nielson expressed President Donald Trump's administration's frustration with "loopholes" in American immigration policy that supposedly incentivize illegal immigration.

"There are billboards in Central America in the Northern Triangle countries advertising how to grab a kid to get into the United States illegally. Because that loophole is so big," Nielsen said, citing a Department of Health & Human Services statistic that "10,000 unaccompanied children are in DHHS care."

That's 10,000 children whose parents sent them on this journey without any parental supervision; with smugglers, with traffickers, with other adults.

On Monday, the fact-checking website Politifact rated Nielsen's claim as "false," noting there is no evidence that such billboards exist.

"PolitiFact was unable to find any evidence of the billboards Nielsen described," Politifact wrote. The group said it reached out to Nielsen's office asking for documentation of the billboards the secretary was describing, but have not received a response.

Politifact stated that experts familiar with the regions from which people are trying to get into the United States, specifically El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, "have traveled to Central America told us they have never heard of or seen such billboards."

You can watch the full interview here:

In fact, as Politifact pointed out, the only billboards that have been erected in the "Northern Triangle" were put in place by the Obama administration, "but their goal was to deter illegal immigration, not encourage it." The billboards were actually implemented to discourage people from coming to the United States from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Poverty and violence are the primary reasons people flee those countries, according to Politifact.

Politifact also corrected Nielsen's claim that immigrants "grab a kid to get into the United States illegally." American immigration law does not determine entry based on whether or not an immigrant is traveling with a child, Politifact said, adding: "the law allows parents and children to apply for asylum in the United States, even if they entered the country illegally."

"I did not see a single billboard related to migration, and definitely not promoting migration," Stephanie Leutert, director of the Mexico Security Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin, said. "The only thing I saw/heard while on the country's highways was an announcement on the bus radio warning would-be migrants of the dangers of traveling to the United States and how smugglers might abandon them in the desert."

Leutert recently returned from a three-week trek through Guatemala, wherein she gave no indication there were any billboards or notices giving instructions on how to enter the United States.

Leutert added that Guatemalans are under the assumption that asylum-seekers without children can be expected to be detained for the duration of their case, and that those will children may be released temporarily with an ankle monitor.

"However, this was 100 percent not due to any potential billboard, as this is not how people get their information related to U.S. migration policy," Leutert said. She noted that those looking to come to the United States hear about American border policy through social networks, friends, and family who have made the journey.

Twitter shared its thoughts on Nielsen's remarks, with users blasting the administration's "zero tolerance" policy that ripped children from their parents at the border. Voices on social media blasted Nielsen for what they see as more lies about Trump's treatment of immigrants.

Calls for Nielsen's resignation resounded.

Last month, a federal judge ordered the administration to reunite thousands of migrant children with their families, however, there was no plan in place to do so when Attorney General Jeff Sessions first announced the policy in April, and the majority of displaced minors remain in federal custody.

Nielsen also came under fire in June for tweeting: "We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”

Win McNamee/Getty Images // CBS Television Distribution

In December, President Donald Trump established the United States Space Force, a sixth branch of the United States Army.

The goal of the force is to protect United States assets in outer space from foreign rivals and is slated to cost around $2 billion in the next five years.

Today, Trump unveiled the official logo for the Space Force, but people think it bears a striking resemblance to another iconic symbol.

Keep reading...
Preston Ehrler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images // JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

People were stunned this past July when President Donald Trump tweeted that four Congresswomen of color—Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)—should "go back" to where they came from.

He also falsely claimed they "originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe..."

Three of the Congresswomen were born in the United States. Omar was a refugee from Somalia. All are Americans.

At a campaign rally days later in North Carolina, President Donald Trump mentioned Congresswoman Omar—and got a strong reaction from the crowd.

While bigotry is common at a Trump rally, it became even more blatant when Trump's supporters began chanting "Send her back," echoing the calls from Trump's tweet for them to "go back" to where they came from.

Keep reading...
Fox News

As Democratic House impeachment managers make their case against President Donald Trump, one of his favorite news networks is going to lengths to keep the bevy of evidence against him from reaching their viewers' ears.

At first, Fox News tried scrolling Trump's so-called accomplishments alongside live video of the historic proceedings. Now, the network's latest attempt to distract from the Democrats' arguments is raising eyebrows even higher.

Keep reading...
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images // Alex Wong/Getty Images

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was one of the first witnesses in the House of Representatives' initial impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Vindman testified before the House's select committee on impeachment late last year after hearing Trump's infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Keep reading...
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The administration of President Donald Trump relies on its white Evangelical base to keep its support consistently hovering around 40 percent.

In keeping with this, President Donald Trump often invokes anti-abortion values he claims to hold dear. He's falsely claimed that Democrats are determined to rip babies from their mothers' wombs and that parents often discuss with their doctors whether or not to keep the baby...after the baby is born.

These claims are patently false, but they rile up the base.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos seems to be playing right along in promoting abortion hysteria, if a recent speech is any indication.

Keep reading...
Fox News

After hours of evidence presented by the House Impeachment managers in the Senate trial against President Donald Trump, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) strayed even further into the abyss of fanaticism as he defended the President to reporters.

Graham, a Trump critic turned ally, didn't attempt to refute any of the myriad evidence laid out by Democrats, but instead dismissed the claims that Trump did anything wrong when he withheld congressionally approved aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.

Keep reading...