Donald Trump Leans on Unverifiable Statistics About Immigration in Blustery CPAC 2019 Speech

President Donald Trump once again referenced unverifiable statistics about immigration court proceedings during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday — one of many false or misleading statements that came during the commander-in-chief's blustery and lengthy spiel.

During his two-hour monologue at the Maryland conservative conference, Trump stated that only three percent of unauthorized migrants show up for required court proceedings. That figure is an unproven statistic the president has previously peddled while trying to defend his policies on immigration.

"Nobody shows up," he remarked at CPAC, which is hosted by the American Conservative Union. "Three percent of the people come back for a trial. It's insane. We have to end chain migration and we have to cancel the visa lottery."

According to available data, the number is considerably higher. A report from the Department of Justice from the 2016-2017 fiscal year shows the rate at which migrants show up for court hearings hovers around 72 percent. When looking only at asylum seekers, the rate jumps to 89 percent.

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Data from a fact sheet shows that far more immigrants appeared for court hearings than Trump claimed during his speech at CPAC. U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office For Immigration Review

The rate fluctuates in other reports that use different methodology, but never dips as low as Trump claimed at CPAC. A report from the Department of Homeland Security found no-show rates of about 39 percent in 2016 when the person had never been detained. Data from Syracuse University puts the percentage of all cases decided in absentia at about 20.

"The vast majority of individuals who in recent years were released on bond as a result of their custody hearing before an immigration judge turned up for their court case," a report from Syracuse stated.

Trump repeated his "three percent" claim as recently as November 2018, days before the midterm elections. That speech revolved around the supposed dangers of letting migrants traveling in a caravan enter the U.S. through the southern border.

"They never show up, almost, it's like a level of three percent," the president said at the time. "They never show up for the trial. So by the time their trial comes, they're gone, nobody knows where they are."

He also invoked the percentage during a June 2018 anniversary celebration for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, telling the audience that "like three percent come back," according to White House transcripts of the meeting.

Trump appointees have also invoked the narrative that most migrants abscond from required court appearances—a rationale used to justify holding those who cross the border illegally in detention facilities instead of following "catch and release" practices.

Thomas Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement used the argument to defend the controversial practice of separating migrant families during a 2018 appearance on CNN.

"They'll say the right thing to get released from detention, then they won't show up in court," Homan said in the June interview. "But they're already in the United States. They're lost in society. They never get removed. So as long as we send the world this message — 'Come and say the right thing, get released, never to show up in court' — you're never going to fix this."

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.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on February 24, 2017 in National Harbor, Maryland. Hosted by the American Conservative Union, CPAC is an annual gathering of right wing politicians, commentators and their supporters. Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images