Trump Exaggerated Data on Illegal Immigrants in Prison

About 13 percent of federal inmates were in the U.S. illegally, ten percent lower than the president tweeted. A reference to border arrests rising should have referred only to families attempting to cross.

President Trump tweeted on Saturday that 23 percent of federal inmates are illegal immigrants, border arrests are up 240 percent and that in Texas between 2011 and 2018, there were 292,000 crimes by illegal aliens, including 539 murders. The New York Times examines these figures. Among federal inmates, as of last year, 21 percent were immigrants, both legal and undocumented. At least 13 percent of the total, 23,826 inmates, were in the U.S. unlawfully.  The 240 percent figure refers to a surge in families attempting to cross at the southwest border. The number of family units apprehended at the border more than tripled from 8,120 in December 2017 to 27,518 in December 2018.  Overall, illegal border crossings have been declining for nearly two decades.

The Texas figures cited by Trump are accurate, although the offenses did not necessarily occur during that eight-year time frame. More than half of these charges were uncategorized. The charges Trump singled out did not always result in convictions. Texas public safety department show that some 7.5 million arrests were made from 2010 to 2017, including 6,161 for murder, 177,000 for aggravated assault, 14,000 for rape and nearly 89,000 for weapons charges. A 2018 study from the libertarian Cato Institute found that in Texas conviction and arrest rates for illegal immigrants were lower than those for native-born Americans for most crimes.