NPR Reporter: Illegal Border Crossings Return to 'Normal' After 'Trump Effect' Plunge

April 10th, 2018 9:02 AM

You know you're listening to National Public Radio when the abnormal is casually passed off as normal.

Such was the case in the most recent NPR Politics podcast that was posted by National Public Radio on April 5, with a weekly roundup of news that runs every Thursday.

NPR White House reporter Tamara Keith was talking about President Trump's decision to deploy National Guard troops to patrol the US-Mexican border when colleague Scott Horsley, who also covers the White House, weighed in. Horsley proceeded to step in it more than once, though in a way that few liberals listening are likely to have caught: 

KEITH: Now, technically, politics cannot be the official impetus. It can be the unofficial impetus but there has to be, in theory, a reason why this is happening. And Scott, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security says there is a reason.

HORSLEY: That's right and remember, the President spent a lot of last year bragging about how much he and his get-tough stance on border policing had done to depress the number of illegal border crossings. And in fact if you look at the numbers from the Department of Homeland Security, we did see a dramatic drop in the number of illegal border crossers last year. That was called the Trump Effect.

But we sort of saw the illegal border crossings sort of bottomed out about this time last year and they've slowly begun creeping up again and just this week we got the numbers for the March border crossings and it was a pretty dramatic spike, they were up in 37 percent in March from February and they were three times as high in March of 2018 as they were in March of 2017. Remember, March of 2017 we were at peak Trump Effect. So it's kind of bouncing back off of an artificially low floor and what we're really seeing is illegal border crossings returning to sort of the kind of normal level that they've been at for the last five or six years.

But it is a substantial increase from where we were a year ago and that's what the White House is hanging its hat on here.

Horsley gives himself away here not once but twice. First, he describes the steep decline in border crossings early last year, which "bottomed out" in his words, and attributes this to the "Trump Effect." But in the year that has passed, he suggests, the steep decline after Trump took office resulted in an "artificially low" level of illegal crossings.

Secondly, Horsley points out that illegal crossings are climbing again, with three times as many in this past March as in March 2017. This, he says, is bringing us back to "normal" -- which is a curious way of putting it.

Imagine the same thing said about a different illegality ...  The police crackdown on home break-ins has resulted in an artificially low number of burglaries, but the frequency should return to normal once the crackdown ends ...

How can you tell if someone shrugs off illegal immigration as a problem? When he describes its precipitious decline as "artificial" -- and when it surges back as "normal."