President Donald Trump talked over CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta in a heated exchange during a news conference Friday at the White House. Acosta accused the president of fabricating a crisis on the border in order to declare a national emergency after he could not get a border wall approved by Congress.
What was the news conference about?
Trump called a news conference on Friday morning to announce that he planned to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional funding.
What happened with Acosta?
After making his announcement, Trump took some questions from reporters.
When the president called on him, Acosta began: "Thank you,. Mr. President. I wondered if you could comment on this disconnect that we seem to have in this country, where you are presenting information about what's happening at the border, calling it an invasion, talking about women with duct tape over their mouths and so on. And yet, there's a lot of reporting out there, there's a lot of crime data out there, there's a lot of Homeland Security data out there that shows border crossings at a near record low—
"That's because of us," Trump interrupted him. "It's still, excuse me, it's still massive numbers."
Acosta continued "—that shows undocumented immigrants committing crimes at lower levels — that shows undocumented criminals — or undocumented immigrants committing crimes at lower levels than native born Americans. What do you say—"
"You don't really believe that stat. Do you really believe that stat?" Trump interjected. "Take a look at our federal prisons."
"I believe in facts and statistics and data but— " Acosta said
"OK, real quick, let's go," Trump said, trying to make him hurry up.
"What do you say to your critics who say you are creating a national emergency, that you're concocting a national emergency here, in order to get your wall because you couldn't get it through other ways?" Acosta asked.
"Let's ask the angel moms. Do you think I'm creating something?" Trump said, referring to the mothers of people killed by illegal immigrants whom he had invited to the press briefing. "Ask these incredible women, who lost their daughters and their sons. OK? Because your question is a very political question, because you have an agenda. You're CNN. You're fake news. You have an agenda. The numbers that you gave are wrong. Take a look at our federal prison population. See how many of them, percentage wise, are illegal aliens. Just see. Go ahead and see. it's a fake question."
Trump spars with CNN's Acosta: You have an agenda, you're fake news youtu.be
Do we know what percentage of federal inmates are illegal immigrants?
Figuring out the number of illegal immigrants in federal prisons is not as easy as it sounds. In the past year, the pro-border wall Federation for American Immigration Reform put out a study that claimed that illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of crimes on average than American citizens.
A few months earlier, however, the Libertarian think tank CATO released a study claiming that immigrants are about half as likely to commit crimes.
These two studies are so different because there is no direct way to get at the number of how many illegal immigrants are incarcerated in the U.S., so researchers need to find creative ways to get at that information through other data sets.