As television networks are set to air President Donald Trump’s first Oval Office address on immigration — a subject he has been known to lie about profusely — Democratic leaders are calling for equal airtime.
“Now that the television networks have decided to air the President’s address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.
NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox have all agreed to air Trump’s Tuesday Oval Office address, which the White House is billing as a speech about the “humanitarian crisis” at the border. The decision to air the president on primetime television shows the power Trump has over television media. In 2014, the same networks refused grant then-President Barack Obama airtime for his immigration speech, saying it was an “overtly political move by the White House.”
Needless to say, Trump’s speech is expected to be very partisan. NBC News has agreed to air Democrats’ rebuttal.
Congress is on day 18 of a partial government shutdown over Trump’s demands for $5 billion in border wall funding, which Democrats won’t sign on to. The Senate and House have both passed spending bills — with bipartisan support — to fund the government, that Trump has rejected. Roughly 800,000 government employees have been impacted by the shutdown, which has shuttered 25 percent of the federal government. Already federal agencies are warning that they will not be able to fully fund social safety net programs — like food stamps — if the shutdown continues.
But Trump has only doubled down. Just last week the president quipped the impasse could last months, or even years. And Trump and the White House have been drumming up panic over the southern border — which, as Vox’s Matt Yglesias writes, is a narrative built on lies:
- Contrary to Trump’s depiction, states with more unauthorized immigrants have slightly less violent crime, not more. A similar methodology also suggests unauthorized immigration is associated with significant reductions in nonviolent crime.
- A study looking at metro areas and overall immigration, both legal and illegal, likewise found that immigration is associated with lower crime.
- Immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans, and unauthorized immigrants commit violent crimes at a lower rate than the native population.
- Trump’s claim that immigration is a strain on the economy that would make Americans poorer is contrary to what economists have shown; immigration seems to raise wages for native-born workers while lowering pay for other immigrants.