Trump's Border Crisis Is 'Fiction' and a 'Made Up Problem,' Former White House Official Points Out

Former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart has pointed out that Donald Trump's insistence that there is a "crisis" on the border is a "made up problem," making it difficult for lawmakers to negotiate with the president.

Appearing on CNN's New Day on Monday, Lockhart, who served under former President Bill Clinton, discussed the end of the longest partial government shutdown in history and the next steps as Democrats and Republicans negotiate with the president over the next three weeks regarding border security. He said that while Trump had already backed down when he agreed to reopen the government, the president would find a way to claim victory anyway. Lockhart also explained that Trump's intense focus on border security does not match up with reality.

An older section of border wall ends at a ravine on January 27 near Campo, California Scott Olson/Getty Images

"Remember, immigration – illegal immigration – is at historical lows. There is no crisis at the border [between the U.S. and Mexico]," the former press secretary said. "So, you've got to start from the place that everything the president's saying is fiction."

"It's very hard to negotiate with someone who's dealing with a made up problem," he said. While Lockhart said he believed Democrats and Republicans would find a way to compromise on border security, he suggested it would be a continuation of what the country has already been doing. He also mocked Trump's threat to declare a national emergency.

"They've already lost the messaging battle on the emergency because if it was an emergency, we would have already acted," he said. "It's him saying, 'it's an emergency, but I'll give you three weeks to talk about the emergency.'"

On Friday, Trump announced he would sign a bipartisan budget to reopen the government as negotiations continued over border security. The stopgap budget was essentially the same as the one he refused to sign before Christmas and did not include any funding for the border wall he had demanded. During the shutdown, 800,000 federal employees were forced to work without pay or were temporarily furloughed. The move led to billions in losses to the U.S. economy and a significant reduction in gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

President Donald Trump speaks about the government shutdown on January 25 from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Justifying the shutdown, the president has insisted repeatedly that there is a crisis on the southern border, pointing to drugs, criminals and undocumented immigrants entering the country. But as analysts have pointed out, undocumented immigration has actually declined significantly in the past few decades. Additionally, the majority of illicit drugs enter the country through legal ports of entry, meaning a border wall would do little – if anything – to stop the flow. And although some undocumented immigrants have committed violent crimes in the U.S., overall data shows that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than American citizens. Experts have also pointed out that the majority of undocumented immigrants currently residing in the country initially entered the U.S. legally and overstayed their visas.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported Saturday that the Trump National Golf Club in New York fired more than a dozen undocumented immigrant employees this month in the midst of the shutdown. Most had worked at the club for many years, despite the president's constant stream of anti-immigrant rhetoric.