Deception & Misdirection

How the fact-checkers blew “open borders”

This article appears in the January 2017 issue of Capital Research.

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy. Photo by Gage Skidmore.]

It appears that “fact-checkers” have one thing in common: They lie.

The latest evidence comes from documents released by WikiLeaks revealing Hillary Clinton’s private speech for Brazilian bankers, for which she was paid $225,000 by Itau BBA, a unit of Itau Unibanco Holding, Brazil’s largest private-sector bank. Her remarks followed by eight months a speech by Bill Clinton for which the Brazilian bankers paid a reported $400,000.

In her remarks, dated May 16, 2013, Clinton said that she believes in open borders. “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders . . . ,” she said, as quoted in the WikiLeaks document. (She does not deny making the comment.)

That represents a problem for the fact-checkers. Every one of the major fact-checking organizations reported, as a matter of objective, undeniable fact, that Clinton is not in favor of open borders. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, his running mate Mike Pence, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump advisor, have all been branded by the fact-checkers as liars (or, at least, makers of false claims) for asserting that Clinton is for open borders. Now we know that, in 2013, Clinton told bankers in a private forum that open borders were her “dream.”

While it is possible that she has changed her mind since the bankers’ event, or that, for some reason, her policies aren’t intended to help her pursue her “dream,” or that she lied to the bankers, we know that Trump’s, Pence’s, and Giuliani’s accusations may be true—indeed, probably are true. A reasonable belief cannot be classified objectively as a falsehood. Therefore, the fact-checkers’ labeling of their comments as falsehoods is, itself, a lie.

And they, the fact-checkers, all told the same lie.

The fact-checkers cannot effectively defend themselves on the ground that they were expressing opinions, because the sole purpose of fact-checking is to compare claims to objective facts.

Together with recent revelations that the New York Times gave Clinton a veto over quotes, that CNBC’s John Harwood gave advice to the Clinton campaign, that CNN town hall questions were leaked to the Clinton people, that the Clinton campaign hosted a cocktail party/dinner for 37 journalists that was not publicly reported—along with other recent disclosures about unethical behavior by the news media—the fact that the fact-checkers lied is of great significance, exposing a pattern of corruption that is astonishing in scope.

Open borders

The term “open borders” refers to a lack of significant restrictions on travel between countries. For example, prior to the 9/11 attack, the U.S. and Canada had an open border between them. As described by Julie Grant of North Country Public Radio: “People in towns along the border used to cross back and forth between Canada and the U.S. all the time for everything from dinner and shopping to cheaper gas. Customs might have waved you through without even checking for I-D.  People bragged about how friendly it all was.”

Similarly, the Schengen Area is an open border zone in Europe that includes 22 of the 28 countries in the European Union plus six others. Countries in that zone abolished passport requirements and other types of border control between them. Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies noted in National Review Online in May that the Schengen Area “represents truly open borders—no screening at the frontier. It’s like driving to Cape Cod and whizzing at full speed past the ‘Entering Marion’ sign.” (Some controls have been put into effect, supposedly temporarily, following recent attacks in Europe by Islamofascist terrorists.), a website that supports the idea, described the concept as “a world where there is a strong presumption in favor of allowing people to migrate and where this presumption can be overridden or curtailed only under exceptional circumstances.”

Krikorian noted that political leaders often engage in “enforcement theater”—in pretending to enforce the law.

Real-world open borders is consistent with enforcement theater, so long as it doesn’t interfere in any meaningful sense with foreigners moving here. It’s consistent with immigration quotas, so long as they are high enough that everyone who wants to move here is able to do so.

In a policy sense, then, open borders actually means “unlimited immigration.” And this is, in fact, a widespread view, on both the elite Left and the elite Right. As I wrote . . . in 2010: I actually think that La Raza, the Chamber of Commerce, the ACLU, Microsoft, et al. would sincerely back electrified fencing, land mines, and anything else they were asked to support, so long as there were no limits on the number of foreigners able to legally come here, as President Bush called for in his January 2004 immigration speech. This is why referring to these groups as supporters of open borders is not an epithet but simply a description.

It’s easy for a politician to pretend to oppose open borders. Pass a strict law, then decline to enforce it or make it clear that violators will get amnesty. Enact a quota, but make it so high that it will never actually restrict anything. Build barriers to immigration, while making sure that it’s easy to get around or through those barriers. Whatever you have to do, to put open borders into effect while assuring the voters that you’re doing no such thing.

Because it’s so easy for politicians to lie about their immigration policies, and because there is an extensive record of them doing just that, journalists must apply strict scrutiny to candidates’ claims on the issue.

With regard to Hillary Clinton, fact-checkers simply take her word for it.


Checkers speak

There are many news media organizations and individual bloggers who style themselves as fact-checkers. Some prominent examples of fact-checking efforts:

  • PolitiFact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times), won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for its effort to fact-check the 2008 campaign. Its parent company is owned by a journalism school, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies. The project uses a “Truth-O-Meter” to rate political claims and controversial statements. The statements that most offend the fact-checkers at PolitiFact are labeled as “Pants on Fire,” a reference to the children’s taunt “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”
  • is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Wisconsin. The Center was founded by Walter and Leonore Annenberg, prominent supporters of President Reagan, and funded through their foundation. (Often, left-wing projects are underwritten by conservatives who fail to adequately supervise how their money is spent. For example, Walter Annenberg funded a grant proposal that was supposed to promote education reform in Chicago—a proposal co-authored by terrorist Bill Ayers—and the money helped the project’s board chairman, Barack Obama, become a key player in the city’s politics.)
  • The Reality Check Team, a project of the Cable News Network (CNN), is described in various stories as “inspect[ing] claims,” putting “claims and assertions to the test,” and “vet[ting] the debate claims.” CNN, now part of the media giant Time Warner, was founded by businessman Ted Turner, who was once considered a conservative but veered to the Far Left, notably during his marriage to actress and anti-U.S. activist Jane Fonda.
  • The Politico Wrongometer is a project of The Politico, a politics newspaper based in the Washington, D.C. area.
  • The Fact Checker, a blog by journalist Glenn Kessler, is a project of the Washington Post, which is owned, through a holding company, by Jeff Bezos, founder of People who offend Kessler in this regard are given a rating of one to four “Pinocchios,” a reference to the children’s literature and animated cartoon character whose nose grew when he lied.

Here’s what those fact-checkers and others have said about Clinton’s immigration policies and about the criticism of those policies by Trump and his surrogates.



[headline] Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton would create ‘totally open borders’

. . . While Donald Trump vows to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to keep undocumented immigrants out, he says Hillary Clinton has the opposite approach. “She’s pledged to grant mass amnesty, and in her first 100 days, end virtually all immigration enforcement and thus create totally open borders for the United States, totally open borders,” Trump said in a June 22 speech.

Claiming that Clinton would create “totally open borders” is a serious charge that suggests allowing people to travel freely or with very few restrictions between two countries.

That’s not what Clinton has proposed. Clinton has supported legislation that includes a path to citizenship (with conditions) and included heightened border security. As a candidate, she says she will focus on deportations of criminals.

However, some experts argue that “open borders” doesn’t necessarily mean no enforcement at all but making it far easier for undocumented immigrants to stay here. Clinton does want to make it easier for many undocumented immigrants, but that’s not the same as getting rid of enforcement. . . .

So if Clinton hasn’t called for “open borders,” what does she want to do on immigration?

During this campaign, she has called for addressing immigration laws including a path to citizenship within her first 100 days. But she has also called for protecting borders and deporting criminals or those who pose threats. “We need to secure our borders, I’m for it, I voted for it, I believe in it, and we also need to deal with the families, the workers who are here, who have made contributions, and their children,” she said in November. “We can do more to secure our border and we should do more to deal with the 11 or 12 million people who are here, get them out of the shadows.”

This is pretty consistent with her view as a senator and secretary of state. . . .

“Trump may be conflating the term ‘open borders’ with anything less than perfect enforcement of our immigration laws — which would be a serious rhetorical error on his part,” [the Cato Institute’s Alex] Nowrasteh said. “Trump can’t claim Clinton is for open borders while she has also supported massive increases in border security to better enforce our restrictive immigration laws.” . . .

Our ruling

Trump said Clinton’s immigration platform would “create totally open borders.”

This is a huge distortion of Clinton’s proposals.

Clinton has praised work already done to secure the border, and she said she supported a 2013 bill that would have invested billions more in border security while creating a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. Her plan calls for protecting the border and targeting deportation to criminals and security threats. Her plan would make it easier for many undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, but that’s not the same as ending all enforcement.

We rate this claim False.


So far, so mediocre. PolitiFact in the above excerpt asserted that “Clinton’s immigration platform” doesn’t include open borders. That’s correct, in that she is not openly calling for open borders. And Trump’s claim in the June 22 speech that she has “pledged to grant mass amnesty, and in her first 100 days, end virtually all immigration enforcement and thus create totally open borders” is an exaggeration of what she had “pledged.” (In my view, Trump was correct that Clinton policies would eventually have the effect of creating open borders, but he was wrong to say that she “pledged to . . . end virtually all immigration enforcement.” Again, the key word is “pledged.”)

In its response to Trump’s June 22 speech, PolitiFact was correct on the narrow point about Clinton’s public promise. But, based on the available evidence, the conclusion that Clinton desired open borders was a perfectly reasonable one. That’s where PolitiFact went off the rails, when Rudy Giuliani brought the issue up in a speech at the Republican National Convention.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended Donald Trump’s plan to secure the border and said that Hillary Clinton would take the opposite approach. “You know Donald Trump will secure our borders,” Giuliani said at the Republican convention July 18. “His opponent has had her chance to do this, and she has failed. Hillary Clinton is for open borders.”

Claiming that Clinton would create “open borders” suggests she would allow undocumented immigrants to travel freely or with very few restrictions between two countries.

That’s not what Clinton has proposed. Clinton supported legislation in 2013 that included a path to citizenship (with conditions) and heightened border security. . . .

Our ruling

Giuliani said, “Hillary Clinton is for open borders.”

Clinton supported a 2013 bill that would have invested billions in border security in addition to a path to citizenship. As a presidential candidate she has called for securing the border and targeting deportation to criminals and those who pose security threats. While her plan would make it easier for many undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, that’s not the same as allowing a free-for-all at the border and ending enforcement.

We rate this claim False.

Unfortunately for PolitiFact, Giuliani’s statement was almost certainly true. Hillary Clinton is for open borders, or, at least, that’s what she told bankers in 2013. There is absolutely no evidence that she has abandoned her open borders “dream” since then.

Astonishingly, after Clinton was caught having made the “dream” remark and after Trump highlighted the remark, PolitiFact doubled down on the falsehood. PolitiFact, October 12:

Donald Trump repeated his claim that Hillary Clinton supports open borders, pointing to an excerpt of a leaked speech as new evidence.

Wikileaks released more than 2,600 hacked emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, including an email with brief sections of Clinton’s paid remarks to Wall Street banks. (The Clinton campaign hasn’t confirmed or disputed the authenticity of the emails.) According to Trump, these speeches show “she wants the United States to surrender to global governance with no controls over trade or immigration.”

“Hillary Clinton’s radical call for open borders, meaning anyone in the world can enter the United States without any limit at all, would end the United States as we know it today,” he said at an Oct. 10 rally in Pennsylvania.

“By the way, weeks ago, I called out Hillary Clinton for supporting open borders and the media said I was wrong. Now, I’ve been proven right,” he continued. “Where is the media rushing to correct these false stories? Because in the Wikileaks, it was all about open borders, free trade for everybody.”

Is Trump right that Clinton really does want open borders?

The leaked excerpt does contain the words “open borders,” but that alone doesn’t make Trump’s claim correct. Experts suggested Clinton could have been talking about free travel or open trade, or immigration policy. It’s just not clear. What’s more, Clinton’s official immigration position does not contain a proposal for an open border.

Clinton’s immigration plan

As evidence for Trump’s claim, the Trump campaign referred us to Clinton’s pledge to offer immigration legislation within her first 100 days in office as well as her support for sanctuary cities. We’ve looked into this before, and concluded that equating Clinton’s immigration plan with “open borders” is not accurate.

Clinton supported 2013 legislation (which never passed) that included a path to citizenship with conditions and billions for border enforcement for new surveillance equipment and fencing along the Mexican border, as well as adding 20,000 border agents.

As a candidate, she has said she would focus on deportations for violent criminals or those who pose threats.

Clinton, however, does want to make it easier for many undocumented immigrants to obtain a legal status. That’s not the same as getting rid of enforcement, of course, and it’s a far cry from Trump’s characterization: “Anyone in the world can enter the United States without any limit at all.”

Clinton’s paid speech comment on open borders

According to Trump, the Wikileaks hack vindicates his earlier charge. The speech excerpt is more ambiguous than he’s suggesting, but she does use the words “open borders.”

On Jan. 25, Clinton campaign research director Tony Carrk sent an email to Podesta that contained excerpts of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street banks. (For months Clinton has faced calls to release the speech transcripts but hasn’t done so.)

She mentioned open borders in her remarks on May 16, 2013, to the Brazilian bank Banco Itau. The excerpt, in its entirety, reads:

“My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.”

It’s difficult to discern exactly what she was referring to here, because we don’t have more context. The Clinton campaign didn’t respond to our request for the full speech.

But a campaign spokesman pointed to statements by Podesta and Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook on Oct. 9. Both said the context of that sentence related to green energy — and wasn’t about people immigrating to the United States.

On Face the Nation, Mook said she was talking about integrating green energy between north and south America. “But if the question is does Hillary Clinton support throwing open our borders, absolutely not. And she is going to do everything she can to fight to protect the interest of workers in this country. That is actually why she voted against the Central American free trade agreement when she was a senator,” Mook said.

On Fox News Sunday, Podesta also said she was referring to clean energy. “When she was secretary of state, she talked about creating a hemispheric effort to bring clean energy across the continent from the tip of South America to Canada, to invest in clean and renewable energy, to invest in the transmission that would clean up our energy system,” Podesta said. “And I think when you look at what she said about immigration, she’s for comprehensive immigration reform that takes people out of the shadows, emphasizes family unity, but also has — modernizes our border security.

Are her remarks a call for open borders for immigrants?

We interviewed three immigration experts and asked them if they thought she was calling for open borders for immigrants and whether it was in conflict with her campaign immigration plan. The experts said Clinton’s remarks were not a clear-cut call for open borders. They also said that her statement sounded aspirational and contained no timeline or explanation as to how she would make it happen politically.

“I would note her emphasis on a ‘hemispheric’ common market, an idea that became more concrete in 1994 when her husband, Bill Clinton, hosted the first Summit of the Americas meeting in Miami,” said Stephen Kelly, a Duke University public policy professor.

That summit involved 34 democracies, and “open markets, hemispheric integration, and free trade” were all cited as a means of increasing prosperity at the meeting, Kelly said. Those summits have continued, and Clinton attended one in 2012 as secretary of state. “My guess would be that Clinton’s Brazil speech reflects this broader call for greater hemispheric cooperation on a variety of issues, including trade,” Kelly said. “Given this context, and without seeing the rest of her speech, I would also guess that the ‘open borders’ she mentions relate to the movement of goods and capital, but not people.”

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focused on foreign policy and national security, said that Clinton seemed to refer to something related to travel such as the Schengen Agreement, which abolished many of the European Union’s internal borders.

For example, if the United States and Canada had such an agreement, that would not mean an open border for free immigration, but rather for free travel. “I don’t think she is calling for open immigration, but the context of her remarks shows that when she says ‘open borders,’ she doesn’t just mean open trade,” he said.

Jacob Vigdor, professor of public policy and governance University of Washington, said Clinton appeared to be talking about both trade and immigration. “I would read the remark as calling for open borders with regard to both trade and immigration.  Otherwise the term ‘open trade and open borders’ would be redundant,” he said.

However, he said he saw no timetable in her remarks beyond “some time in the future,” or discussion about how to make it happen.

“I don’t necessarily see a contradiction between a statement of ideals and a more pragmatic policy agenda for reality,” he said. “One can dream of a crime-free world where there is need for neither police nor prisons while still supporting those things in reality.”

Our ruling

Trump said, “I’ve been proven right” about “Hillary Clinton’s radical call for open borders, meaning anyone in the world can enter the United States without any limit at all.”

Trump is referring to a leaked speech excerpt in which Clinton purportedly says, “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.”

We don’t have more context about what Clinton meant by “open borders” because she has not released the full speech. Her campaign has said she was talking about clean energy across the hemisphere.

Trump argues that it directly applies to her current immigration policy. She has not called for open borders in this campaign. Clinton has proposed making it easier for the current undocumented population to gain a path to citizenship with conditions, but she has also supported beefed-up border security.

The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.



That, dear reader, is what lying looks like.

Trump said that Clinton was for open borders; the leaked comment to bankers confirmed that “open borders” was her “dream,” or so she told the bankers; Trump said the leaked comment showed he was correct; and PolitiFact reported, as a matter of objective, undeniable fact, that the Trump claim was “Mostly False.”


Now let’s look at Covering the Republican convention in Cleveland, it reported:

The 2016 Republican National Convention opened with the first day’s theme “Make America Safe Again.” But in some cases the facts weren’t safe from distortion: . . .

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Michael McCaul both wrongly claimed that Hillary Clinton supports “open borders.” She supported a bill that would have created a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, but it also would have increased border security. . . .

No ‘Open Borders’

Giuliani and Rep. Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, both wrongly claimed that Hillary Clinton supports “open borders.”

As we wrote when Trump himself made a similar claim, Clinton supported a Senate immigration bill that would have created a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, but it also would have included large investments in border security.

Sticking to the theme of public safety, Giuliani and McCaul argued that Clinton’s position on immigration makes America less safe. But they both went too far with the claim that Clinton supports open borders.

Giuliani: Hillary Clinton is for open borders.

McCaul: Hillary Clinton is promising more of the same — open borders, executive amnesty and the surge of Syrian refugees.

Those comments mirror Trump’s own, when he claimed in a speech attacking Clinton’s character on June 22 that she would “end virtually all immigration enforcement and thus create totally open borders for the United States.”

Clinton has said she supports “comprehensive immigration reform,” and she has vowed that within the first 100 days as president, she would send a plan to Congress that would include “a path to full and equal citizenship” for those currently in the country illegally. She has also said that she would defend Obama’s executive orders that “provide relief from deportation for DREAMers and parents of Americans and lawful residents.” On her campaign website, Clinton says she would “focus resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety.” But the site also states that she will “uphold the rule of law” and “protect our borders and national security.”

In her book “Hard Choices,” Clinton said she supported the 2013 Senate immigration bill, S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

Clinton, “Hard Choices”: I only wish that the bipartisan bill passed in the Senate in 2013 reforming our immigration laws could have passed the House.

The bill would have funded an enhanced border security plan, additional border fencing, the implementation of an E-Verify system, and an exit visa system to stop visa overstays.

“Border security has always been a part of that debate,” Clinton said during a Democratic debate in November.

At a campaign stop in November, Clinton was even more explicit.

“We need to secure our borders, I’m for it, I voted for it, I believe in it, and we also need to deal with the families, the workers who are here, who have made contributions, and their children,” Clinton said in New Hampshire in November. “We can do more to secure our border and we should do more to deal with the 11 or 12 million people who are here, get them out of the shadows.”

That’s far short of advocating for open borders.

Giuliani and McCaul “wrongly claimed that Hillary Clinton supports ‘open borders,’” reported. Their claims were a “distortion.”

Nope. Giuliani said she was “for” open borders, which appears to be true. McCaul said she was “promising . . . open borders,” which is not true if you mean, by “promise,” “assure someone that one will definitely do, give, or arrange something; undertake or declare that something will happen,” but it is true, or a reasonable person could conclude that it is true, if you mean “promise” in its alternate sense of “give good grounds for expecting (a particular occurrence or situation).” Those are the two definitions of the verb “promise” given by the Google dictionary.

In August, went after a Trump ad, labeling it with a graphic that read “MISLEADING”:

The ad begins with the narrator describing immigration “in Hillary Clinton’s America: The system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay. Collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open.”

In contrast, the narrator gives this description of “Donald Trump’s America”: “Terrorists and dangerous criminals: kept out. The border: secured. Our families: safe.”

We’ve written about a few of these claims before. Clinton hasn’t supported “open” borders, as the ad falsely implies. The 2013 Senate immigration bill — the most recent comprehensive immigration legislation, which Clinton has said she backed — would have made large investments in border security, including additional border fencing, and Clinton said during a Democratic debate in November, “Border security has always been a part of that [immigration] debate.” As we’ll explain later, the immigration plan on her website talks about deporting some individuals. That’s not an “open” border.

The ad also uses a deceptive image of people crowded on top of train cars when it says “our border open,” as if anyone and everyone could stream in legally. That’s not what Clinton has proposed or supported. The 2013 Senate bill would have set up a path to citizenship for those who had entered the country prior to Dec. 31, 2011.

In this case, actually fact-checked the Trump campaign’s idea of competing visions for America! Once again, the fact-checkers simply took Clinton’s word as objective fact, and declared any suggestion to the contrary as misleading or false.

If what Clinton says is objective fact, she can never lie, which means she always tells the truth and anyone who says she’s lying is a liar.

It’s just logic!


CNN’s Reality Check Team looked at the “open borders” claim made at the GOP convention by U.S. Representative Mike McCaul.

“Hillary Clinton is promising more of the same. Open borders, executive amnesty and the surge of Syrian refugees,” said Mike McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the Homeland Security Commission.

Clinton’s platform on immigration incorporates a pathway to citizenship and enforcing immigration laws, including deporting people who “pose a violent threat to public safety.” Clinton said in November that the US needs “to secure our borders. I’m for it, I voted for it, I believe in it, and we also need to deal with the families, the workers who are here, who have made contributions, and their children.” She also said in March that the US has “done a really good job securing the border.”

Clinton’s proposed policies and past rhetoric do not reflect open borders. That’s false.


Politico, on September 24, warned its readers with a story headlined “False Claims to Watch Out for in Monday Night’s Debate”:

Trump’s claim: Clinton supports “open borders” . . .

The truth: Trump is wrong about Clinton’s plans for immigration . . .

Trump is also inaccurate when it comes to his descriptions of Clinton’s immigration stance. No surprise here, really, given that we are in a presidential campaign. But Trump said again last week during a North Carolina rally that his Democratic opponent was for “open borders.” In fact, her position includes supporting recent immigration legislation that sought to heighten the country’s border security while installing a new system that finds people who have overstayed their visas and has them removed from the U.S.


The Washington Post, during the vice presidential debate October 4:

[headline] Fact check: Pence’s claim that Clinton has a plan for ‘open borders’

Clinton and Kaine “have a plan for open borders.” –Mike Pence

Pence exaggerates Clinton’s stance on border security and immigration enforcement.

Clinton has said she would expand Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and has advocated comprehensive immigration reform including a pathway to citizenship. But she also has supported enhanced border security. And her immigration proposal includes “humane, targeted and effective” enforcement and focusing immigration resources on detaining and deporting those “who pose a threat to public safety.”


Other fact-checkers

The government-funded National Public Radio declared, in “FACT CHECK: Donald Trump’s Republican National Convention Speech Annotated,” suggested that Trump was being misleading about the death of Sarah Root. (The NPR annotation appeared in brackets.)

[Trump:] They are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources.

One such border-crosser was released and made his way to Nebraska. There, he ended the life of an innocent young girl named Sarah Root. She was 21 years-old, and was killed the day after graduating from college with a 4.0 Grade Point Average. Number one in her class. Her killer was then released a second time, and he is now a fugitive from the law. I’ve met Sarah’s beautiful family. But to this Administration, their amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting. No more.

One more child to sacrifice on the order and on the altar of open borders.

[America does not have “open borders.” It has restrictions on immigration and Border Patrol agents who make hundreds of thousands of apprehensions a year. — Danielle Kurtzleben]

Of course, in that section of the speech, Trump did not claim that America currently has open borders. He suggested that Sarah Root died because of policies intended to create open borders (“on the altar of open borders”).


Likewise, the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, in an article headlined “The lies Trump told this week,” painted Trump as a liar by interpreting his remarks in the most negative light. He said President Obama and Secretary Clinton were “surrendering the safety of the American people to order borders”—that is, to the concept of open borders.

[Trump:] “President Obama and Hillary Clinton have engaged in gross dereliction of duty by surrendering the safety of the American people to open borders.” – 31 August, Phoenix

The US has no “open borders”, though Trump appears to be using the word to denigrate Barack Obama’s support for immigration reform and protection for some undocumented people from deportation. But Obama has deported a record more than 2.5 million people since he took office, including a record 438,421 people in 2013, and increased Border Patrol staff to a record 21,444 agents in 2011; his policy could not reasonably be described as “amnesty” or “open borders”.


The Raw Story, an online publication, referred in June to Trump’s “habit of making fantastical-sounding accusations against Clinton, like creating ‘totally open borders for the United States.’”


Again, the news media’s standard for judging a characterization of Clinton’s policies is that her word is gold, and anyone who contradicts her is just making stuff up. Ronn Blitzer, writing in LawNewz, a website founded by TV legal analyst and former MSNBC general manager Dan Abrams, son of famed attorney Floyd Abrams:

[headline] Trump Completely Fabricated that Hillary Plans on ‘Creating Open Borders’

During Donald Trump‘s televised tirade against his presumptive opponent in the Presidential election, Hillary Clinton, the Republican accused Clinton of planning to create “totally open borders.” The fact of the matter is, not only is this not true, but Trump’s supposed evidence deals with a separate issue.

In a diatribe against Clinton’s immigration policies, Trump brought up her proposals for granting what he referred to as “amnesty” for people currently in the country illegally. He said that her plan to “end virtually all immigration enforcement” would “create totally open borders.”

I’m sorry, what? Does he not realize that those are two different things? Say what you will about Clinton’s immigration policies, but granting clemency to people already in the country is not the same as opening the border for people to cross over in the future. Even if Clinton does wish to end all immigration enforcement against people already living in the U.S., which also isn’t true, that has nothing to do with border security moving forward.

Clinton has actually spoken about the strength of the border. During a debate in March, she acknowledged her past support of enhancing border security, including a physical barrier between the U.S. and Mexico. She used the strength of the border as reason for shifting attention to how to properly deal with people already in the country, and granting them paths to citizenship. Even if Trump disagrees with that approach, it’s not at all the same as opening the border.

Remember: Trump’s characterization of Hillary’s plan was “Completely Fabricated,” according to the headline.


The online magazine Salon did its own fact check.

Claim: “She has pledged to grant mass amnesty and in her first 100 days, end virtually all immigration enforcement, and thus create totally open borders in the United States.”

Fact: Clinton proposes reforming our immigration system to make it easier for families to stay together, but there is no plan for “mass amnesty” or “open borders”.

Well, that settles it. Who could possibly object to “mak[ing] it easier for families to stay together”?


The sincere, believable Clinton

Open borders is not the only troublesome part of Clinton’s “dream” comment to the Brazilian bankers. She said “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders . . . ”

The “hemispheric common market, with open trade” part is important. Trade is a major issue in this campaign, including trade with Mexico and a trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, involving 12 Pacific Rim countries.

Clinton strongly supported U.S. participation in TPP. CNN has published a list of 45 instances in which she pushed TPP. She called TPP “the gold standard in trade agreements” and, in a 2014 book, called it “the signature economic pillar” of the Obama administration’s strategy in Asia. (In the book, she did suggest reserving judgment until the deal was finalized.) The agreement was, she said, “groundbreaking,” “innovative,” and “exciting.”

However, in the face of challenges from Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, who are critics of such agreements, she came out against TPP. Many have questioned her sincerity on the matter, and there’s plenty of evidence to make the case for deception on her part. Most experts on trade policy think she really supports TPP; her operatives pushed the Democratic Party’s platform committee to avoid denouncing TPP as Bernie Sanders supporters wanted; she picked a strongly pro-TPP running mate; and, in July, Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia, Clinton’s 2008 campaign chairman, and, according to Politico, “longtime best friend to the Clintons,” said that things would change after the election. “I worry that if we don’t do TPP, at some point China’s going to break the rules, but Hillary understands this. Once the election’s over, and we sit down on trade, people understand a couple things we want to fix on this, but, going forward, we got to build a global economy.” Asked whether Clinton would end up supporting TPP, McAuliffe added: “Yes. Listen, she was in support of it. There were specific things in it she wants fixed.” (The Washington Post said that McAuliffe’s comment “directly contradict[ed] Clinton’s stated position” on TPP. When his remarks became public, McAuliffe quickly withdrew his prediction.)

Plus, there’s another Clinton comment revealed by WikiLeaks, that politicians have to operate sometimes in the shadows because “you need both a public and private position,” like Abraham Lincoln had when he was trying to abolish slavery. (!)

The “hemispheric common market, with open trade” remark, which refers to trade with Mexico and the rest of the Western Hemisphere, does not directly contradict her TPP stance, but does suggest strongly that Clinton is a more radical supporter of Free Trade than she and her campaign admit.

So how did fact-checkers handle the issue? When Trump suggested she is “pretending” on TPP, well, he’s wrong or a liar.

NBC’s political and investigative teams fact-checked some of the claims in Donald Trump’s speech [a June speech that was largely on foreign policy].

CLAIM: “Now, because I have pointed out why [TPP] would be such a disastrous deal, she is pretending that she is against it. She has even deleted this record of total support from her book.”

The facts: Clinton walked back her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership last October — saying the final deal wasn’t what she’d hoped for when she advocated for it during negotiations as Secretary of State. In April, several months before she reversed course on the deal, some passages supporting the partnership were edited out of the paperback version of her book, “Hard Choices.” The cuts were part of 96 pages of cuts made to account for the paperback’s smaller size, according to a publisher’s note. But not all of them were cut: there’s still two pages praising the deal, or at least the idea of it. “It’s safe to say that the TPP won’t be perfect – no deal negotiated among a dozen countries ever will be — but its higher standards, if implemented and enforced, should benefit American businesses and workers,” she wrote.

Trump has adamantly opposed TPP since before his campaign began; there’s no indication that his remarks changed her mind.

Oh. “The cuts were part of 96 pages of cuts made to account for the paperback’s smaller size, according to a publisher’s note.” So, NBC News seemed to suggest, Clinton is not pretending and, as a matter of objective fact, we can believe her.

NBC News, in that fact-checking article, went on to address the issue of whether Clinton lies. Read this and weep:

CLAIM: Hillary Clinton “is a world class liar”

The facts: According to PolitiFact, 59% of Trump’s checked claims have been deemed false or “Pants on Fire” false, versus 12% for Clinton.

Donald Trump:

True: 2%

Mostly True: 7%

Half True: 15%

Mostly False: 17%

False: 40%

Pants on Fire: 19%

Hillary Clinton:

True: 23%

Mostly True: 28%

Half True: 21%

Mostly False: 15%

False: 11%

Pants on Fire: 1%

Thus, NBC News can report (fact-check) objectively that Hillary Clinton is not “a world class liar,” because Trump is a bigger liar, according to … the fact-checkers at PolitiFact.


Not a real debate if one side lies

With the cost of government exploding, with countless new regulations destroying jobs for lesser-skilled Americans, and with the threat of Islamofascism rising (“There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before,” FBI Director James Comey said last month), concerns about illegal entry and illegal immigration have been at the center of the current presidential campaign.

These concerns are expressed by many people who have great empathy for those from other countries who would like to come to the United States. The U.S. may have benefitted greatly from past waves of immigration, but previous immigrants came, usually at great sacrifice and risk, seeking the opportunity to be free and to work hard and succeed, to become proudly American as part of the country’s mosaic, at a time when there was nothing like the current welfare state.

Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, noted that a country cannot have both open borders and a welfare state, because—

it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both. If you have a welfare state, if you have a state in which every resident is promises a certain minimal level of income, or a minimum level of subsistence, regardless of whether he works or not, produces it or not. Then it really is an impossible thing.

To be clear, Friedman was in favor of free immigration, which he saw as of great benefit to the country—unless the immigrants come for welfare and related programs, in which case the system will eventually collapse.

Some libertarians support open borders precisely because they believe that such a system would cause welfare states to collapse, leading to the rise of libertarianism. Likewise, some socialists support open borders because they think that the resulting collapse would bring about the triumph of socialism. Many elite businesspeople support open borders in the belief that the system would provide them and their businesses with a cheap workforce. Certain political parties around the world support open borders for their own countries because they believe that they would get votes and other political support from the immigrants flooding in.

On the other hand, many, with great justification, worry that Hillary Clinton’s “open borders” dream would turn into a nightmare for the United States. That is a legitimate issue in the presidential election, but the current campaign is being twisted by the efforts of fact-checkers to label people as liars for challenging Clinton on her immigration policies.

Worse, the efforts of fake fact-checkers bring discredit to journalism. It’s an old problem, summed up in the Latin phrase “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?,” usually translated as “Who guards the guards?” or “Who watches the watchmen?”

Who fact-checks the fact-checkers?

Dr. Steven J. Allen

A journalist with 45 years’ experience, Dr. Allen served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton and as senior researcher for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. He earned a master’s…
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