Trump Repeats, and Inflates, Inaccurate Claims About NATO and Immigration

Fact Check of the Day

At a news conference with the Italian prime minister, President Trump exaggerated the number of relatives immigrants can sponsor to reside in the United States and falsely said that NATO was “going out of business.”

what was said

“We have to end the chain. The chain is like a disaster. You bring one person and you end up with 32 people.”

the facts

This is exaggerated.

Since last October’s truck attack in Manhattan, President Trump has claimed without evidence that an Uzbek man who was charged in the attack had sponsored 22 to 24 relatives who moved to the United States through “chain migration,” or family-based immigration.

On Monday, he appeared to have added a few relatives to this count and applied it more broadly to all immigrants.

American green card holders can sponsor only their spouses and unmarried children for permanent residence. American citizens can also sponsor their parents, siblings and married adult children.

As The New York Times has previously reported, studies have estimated that a single immigrant has, on average, sponsored 2.1 to 3.45 foreign relatives — a tenth of Mr. Trump’s dramatic figure.

what was said

“NATO was essentially going out of business because people weren’t paying. It was going down, down, down, you just have to look at the line.”

the facts


By claiming that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was “going out of business,” Mr. Trump has moved on from making exaggerated claims about alliance members’ military spending to an outright falsehood.

As The New York Times has previously explained, each NATO member pledged in 2014 to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense by 2024, largely because of Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine.

As a share of their gross domestic products, spending by European members and Canada began to rise before Mr. Trump took office. The most recent report from the alliance shows that member states’ annual spending as a share of their gross domestic products has steadily increased since 2015, when it was 1.4 percent, to 1.47 percent in 2018. The total dollar amounts spent by European countries and Canada have also risen every year over that time period.

Though the vast majority of members have not yet reached the 2 percent goal, they do not “pay” this money to NATO, and the alliance is not “going out of business” for failing to collect payments.

Even if Mr. Trump broadly meant that alliance members’ military spending was insufficient, it should be noted that European members and Canada spent $270 billion to $300 billion on defense every year before he took office.

Source: Population Research and Policy Review, The New York Times, NATO

Linda Qiu is a fact-check reporter, based in Washington. She came to the Times in 2017 from the fact-checking service PolitiFact. @ylindaqiu