Fact-Checking A White House Claim That A Wall Could Stop Drugs, Human Trafficking

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The White House’s official Twitter account made a couple of pretty bold, and questionable, claims on Wednesday evening about what a proposed border wall could accomplishment.

On two topics — drugs and human trafficking — the White House claimed in its tweet that the proposed extensions of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico would yield positive outcomes.

“A barrier is needed to stop human trafficking, drugs, and gangs. These things don’t come through checkpoints — they come through areas where we have hundreds of miles without walls, without barriers, or without strong fences.”

The tweet was, in fact, an abbreviated version of words that President Donald Trump had said earlier in the day to reporters, according to the White House’s website. Drug smugglers and traffickers “don’t come through your checkpoints; they come through areas where you have hundreds of miles without walls and without barriers, or without strong fences,” Trump had said.

On one of those issues, there’s not enough information available to make a claim such as that. On the other issue, the claim is possibly flat-out wrong.

Drug smuggling

On the topic of how a border wall could stop drugs from entering the country, most experts agree that the president and White House’s assertions are inaccurate.

Not only do drugs come into the country through ports like those found at current border wall installations or points of entry, but drug smugglers reportedly actually prefer to use that entry point over going to places without a wall set up. Smuggling through those ports of entry is where the vast majority of drugs enter the United States when they’re coming from Mexico, the Associated Press reported.

That’s not the assessment of that news agency, however. The AP cites statistics gathered by Trump’s own Drug Enforcement Administration, which came to that conclusion on its own.

Verdict of claim: false.

Human trafficking

The issue of human trafficking, which often involves bringing people into America and forcing them to become overworked laborers or sex workers against their wishes, is less clear whether the administration is right or wrong about their assertions.

Human trafficking experts appear uncertain that a wall could hurt “coyotes,” or human trafficking smugglers, from still being able to bring people over, according to reporting from NBC News.

Could a wall stop them?

“That is a question I’ve been wrestling with,” Dottie Laster, executive director of the Heidi Search Center, said. “I’ve been thinking about it daily, and the truth is I don’t know if it will curb it or not.”

At the same time, Laster seems willing to give a wall a try.

“I’m all for making it more difficult for them,” she added.

But again, individuals from within Trump’s own administration have expressed doubts, or at the very least uncertainties, about whether Trump’s claims are accurate. Part of the problem is that statistics on the issue are hard to come by.

“Because human trafficking is a hidden crime and victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement, there are often challenges in isolating metrics,” said Justine Whelan, a spokeswoman with the Department of Homeland Security.

Verdict of claim: unknown at this time.