Fact-checking Trump's State of the Union address

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 2/6/2019, 8:14 a.m.

By Holmes Lybrand, Priscilla Alvarez, Donna Borak, Kylie Atwood, Marshall Cohen, Lydia DePillis, Nicole Gaouette, Katie Lobosco, Tami Luhby, Alex Rogers, Will Ripley, Catherine E. Shoichet, Geneva Sands and Maegan Vazquez, CNN

(CNN) -- In his second State of the Union address, President Donald Trump sought to strike a bipartisan tone of unity and progress, just weeks after the longest shutdown in US history — and with less than two weeks to go before the next funding lapse.

Trump, asking Americans to "choose greatness," focused on some of his top priorities: immigration, the economy, infrastructure, drug prices and national security.

CNN vetted the President's claims:


Claim: "1 in 3 women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north."

Indeed, the trek to the US-Mexico border has been reported to be violent. According to data from Doctors Without Borders, 68.3% of migrants and refugees "entering Mexico reported being victims of violence during their transit toward the United States," and nearly one-third of women said they'd been sexually abused.

But this needs some perspective. This very violence is why women choose to travel in caravans, to achieve safety in numbers. Trump has offered no specifics about how his policies would address the scourge of sexual violence faced by migrants.

The administration has argued in the past that by building the wall, migrants will be deterred from making the journey.

-- Priscilla Alvarez

Claim: "Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens."

Trump has repeatedly cited crimes committed by undocumented immigrants — both during his presidential campaign and during his tenure in office. This is the second time he's invited family members of victims to the State of the Union.

The Bureau of Justice does not include citizenship in its breakdown of national arrest statistics, so there is not reliable federal data to quantify the number of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

Here's what the statistics do show on immigration and crime. A 2018 study by the libertarian Cato Institute, which reviewed criminal conviction data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, found that immigrants — legal or illegally — are less likely than native-born Americans to be convicted of a crime. Throughout the country, there is also generally a decrease in the number of violent crimes, according to the FBI.

Other studies have found that murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault have not increased alongside an uptick in undocumented immigration since 1990, that undocumented immigrants do not contribute to an increase in drug overdoses and DUI deaths, and that young, undocumented immigrants engage in less crime than their American or legal immigrant peers.

-- Priscilla Alvarez

Claim: "The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime -- one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation's most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities."

The President's statement, which has been repeated by public officials and the White House over the course of the last year, makes an inaccurate connection.