On Thursday, President Trump delivered a lie-packed speech on immigration intended to whip up his base prior to the midterms.
Later that evening, The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert welcomed Fox News host Chris Wallace to his program. And after Wallace acknowledged that the GOP’s health care stance—that Republicans have repeatedly tried to strip people of health care who have pre-existing conditions, contrary to their bogus claims—is “a problem for Republicans,” he tried to “argue the good part” of the president’s immigration speech.
“Fear of the caravan is not good, but the idea that three, or five, or seven thousand people from another country can just walk up to our border, knock on the door, and say, ‘We want in! We want to take jobs here, we want to work here’—no!” exclaimed Wallace. “A country does need to have borders and there does need to be some kind of system that determines whether people are allowed in the country or not. Seriously, do you believe in open borders?”
“No, we don’t have an open border!” Colbert fired back. “There is a system, and three to five thousand people will not make it here. This has happened many times before, and they never do, and you know that! And you know that there is a system in place, and there is a legal system, and we have laws that allow asylum. So I believe in the law. Do you believe in the law, Chris Wallace?”
“Uh, yeah, sure, I believe in the law,” Wallace replied.
“OK, then I accept your apology,” Colbert cracked.
But Wallace persisted: “No, because of the fact that under the asylum rules now, if somebody comes in and they say, ‘We have credible fear of persecution,’ what happens? They are put out into the country, we don’t have enough places to put them, so we do have a catch-and-release program, and about 10 percent of the people that are caught and released return for their hearings. And only about 10 percent get legitimate asylum.”
Colbert wasn’t sold. “I’m not sure that that’s true. Those aren’t the facts that I’ve seen,” he said, before shouting to a researcher off-screen to fact-check Wallace’s stats, adding, “We’ve got a long interview. By the time this is over we’ll know whether you’re right, OK?”
With that, Wallace immediately started backpedaling. “I may be wrong… Only 10 percent of the people who seek asylum are granted asylum,” he said.
“Well, that’s different than what you said,” pointed out Colbert.
“Well, I said two things,” offered Wallace. “I said that and I also said”—
“That they don’t show up for their hearing,” chimed in Colbert.
“A lot of them don’t,” said Wallace.
“If a majority show up for their hearing, how wrong would you be?” Colbert asked.
“I would be about 40 percent wrong,” confessed Wallace, with a nervous grin.
Later on, a Late Show researcher pulled the numbers from PolitiFact, and according to Justice Department data, 60 percent to 70 percent of non-detained immigrants attended immigration-court proceedings.
As Colbert suspected, Wallace was wrong.