As Biden administration officials scramble to contain the political fallout over a surge in migration at the border, they have made a series of false or misleading claims, capping off a summer of bending the truth to avoid controversies.
From Afghanistan to the economy to the border, President Joe Biden and his top aides have often attempted to deflect criticism of their policies by providing inaccurate information to the public, with varying degrees of success.
Here are some of the less-than-truthful claims offered up by the Biden administration since July.
“NO LESS SECURE”
“The border is secure. We’re executing our plan,” Mayorkas said. Responding later to a question from a Republican congressman, Mayorkas added that the border is presently “no less secure than it was previously.”
Setting aside the crisis in Del Rio, Texas, resulting from a spike in the number of Haitians crossing the border, illegal immigration has exploded under Biden’s watch, undermining Mayorkas’s claim.
Border crossings in June hit the highest levels recorded in 21 years. During the month of July alone, Border Patrol agents encountered more than 212,000 people attempting to cross into the country illegally.
In July 2019, at a time when former President Donald Trump was accused of presiding over a border crisis himself, Border Patrol agents encountered roughly 82,000 people attempting to cross into the country illegally.
Critics have blamed the liberal language Biden used on immigration during the campaign, as well as his decision to rescind virtually all of Trump’s immigration policies immediately upon taking office.
“YOU WILL BE RETURNED”
Mayorkas sought to discourage more Haitians from heading to Del Rio and to stem concerns about the number of people fanning out into the United States by warning migrants not to come to the border.
“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned,” the DHS secretary said this week.
However, thousands of Haitian migrants have been released into the U.S. after passing through immigration facilities and receiving a notice to appear in court, a process that can take a year or more.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki based her defense of the lack of COVID-19 restrictions or vaccine requirements placed on the migrants by arguing that the protocols aren’t necessary because the migrants aren’t staying in the U.S.
Her argument, too, falls apart when exposed to the reality that so many migrants are being released into the U.S. from overwhelmed border facilities.
Biden on Friday joined a chorus of administration officials and Democrats condemning Border Patrol agents over images that misleadingly portrayed agents on horseback whipping migrants.
“I promise you, those people will pay,” Biden said of the agents. “There will be consequences. It’s an embarrassment. But beyond an embarrassment, it’s dangerous. It’s wrong.”
The Department of Homeland Security said it launched an investigation of the episode after the widely shared pictures sparked outrage.
However, experts have said Border Patrol agents are never issued whips and noted the ropes shown in the pictures are simply slack in agents’ reins.
What’s more, the photographer in El Paso, Texas, who snapped the photos told a local news station Thursday that neither he nor any of his colleagues saw agents whipping anyone.
“STAY TO GET THEM ALL OUT”
Days after the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated rapidly with the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Biden sat for an interview with ABC and was pressed on how the U.S. would evacuate the then-thousands of Americans trapped in the country.
The interview took place in mid-August, and Biden at the time was weeks away from his self-imposed deadline to withdraw the final American troops by Aug. 31.
Biden vowed that the military would not leave until every American was safely removed from Afghanistan.
“If there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out,” Biden said during the interview.
Despite a terror attack the following week that left 13 U.S. service members dead, hampering the final hours of the evacuation effort as well, Biden ordered all the troops out of the country as scheduled, even as Americans left behind pleaded for help.
NOBODY IS “STRANDED”
Psaki said during a heated exchange in the White House briefing room last month that no American was “stranded” in Afghanistan as the evacuation effort was underway.
She continued to promote the administration’s line at the time, which has since been proven false, that every American who wanted to get out of Afghanistan would be able to do so with the administration’s help.
The conditions in Afghanistan contradicted her statement, however. Many Americans and Afghan allies reported at the time that Taliban members were preventing evacuees from reaching the airport.
Violence and chaos in the streets around the airport made passage to the American planes virtually impossible at times, and the danger became so extreme in the last days of the airlift that the State Department was warning Americans not to attempt the treacherous journey to the airport.
AL QAEDA IN AFGHANISTAN
Biden in August defended the withdrawal plans by arguing that because the extremist group al Qaeda had been eradicated from Afghanistan.
“What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point, with al Qaeda gone?” Biden said when speaking with reporters at the White House on Aug. 20. “We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as well as getting Osama bin Laden. And we did.”
Al Qaeda retains a presence in Afghanistan — a fact Biden’s own Pentagon made clear within hours of his false claim.
Biden contradicted many of his top advisers when describing the expectations his military and intelligence agencies had in the weeks before the Taliban seized Kabul, adding further confusion to the administration’s message on the situation.
The president said during his ABC interview that the complete collapse of security in Afghanistan’s capital was inevitable.
“The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” Biden said.
But other top officials stressed that there were no warning signs that Kabul would fall into the hands of the Taliban.
“There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days,” Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in August.
In addition, the Biden administration has also sent conflicting signals about what its intelligence shows regarding the connections between the Haqqani network, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, and the Taliban, with whom the administration actively cooperated during the evacuation.
The State Department maintained this week that the two remained “distinct entities” that are affiliated.
But members of the Haqqani network have received high-level positions in the Taliban’s emerging government. Sirajuddin Haqqani, for whose family the terrorist group is named, was selected by the Taliban as the acting interior minister, for example.
Even so, the Biden administration has repeated on several occasions that the two groups are “separate.”
At a CNN town hall event in late July, Biden sought to downplay rising concerns about inflation.
“The cost of an automobile, it’s kind of back to what it was before the pandemic,” Biden said during the event .
His statement is false.
The cost of cars, like the cost of goods across the spectrum, has skyrocketed this year, exacerbated by a global shortage in the semiconductors needed for production.
That has driven up the price of used cars as well; in June, the average cost of a used car jumped more than 32% over the same time last year, according to Autoweek .
With people paying more at the pump in recent months, Biden attempted earlier this month to cast the blame for higher gas prices on “pandemic profiteers.”
“We’re also going after the bad actors and pandemic profiteers in our economy. There’s a lot of evidence gas prices should be going down, but they haven’t,” Biden said during an economic speech on Sept. 16. “We’re taking a close look at that.”
Instead, those experts attribute the pump price increase to supply chain disruptions, a shortage of tanker drivers, and robust demand from an increase in travel that has seen more people hit the road in recent months than even before the pandemic.
Railing against state-level GOP voting laws in mid-July, Biden made a series of inaccurate claims about election reforms as he sought to create a sense of urgency for Democrat-led legislation.
Referring to laws in states such as Georgia, Biden described the effort as a “21st-century Jim Crow assault” on democracy, even though many of the laws and proposals he cited actually expanded access to the vote in meaningful ways.
In Georgia, for example, the new election law actually added days to the early voting period and authorized the use of ballot drop boxes on a permanent basis for the first time in the state’s history.
Biden claimed during a July 13 speech that 17 states had enacted 28 new laws this year “to make it harder for Americans to vote.”
His statistics came from the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice, which cited among its examples laws that actually expanded early voting hours or dealt simply with administrative issues such as voting machine operation or registration records maintenance.