Reality Check: Trump on immigrants pouring in to vote

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with Art Del Cueto during a meeting with members of the National Border Patrol Council at Trump Tower, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.

Story highlights

  • Trump spoke during a meeting with border union officials
  • His comments may not have reflected the reality of what's going on

(CNN)It sounded just a little too wacky -- and a little too conspiratorial -- to be true.

But here's the exchange that took place Friday morning at a roundtable on border security between Donald Trump and Art Del Cueto, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing agents. The subject was why undocumented immigrants had been allowed to cross the border.
    Del Cueto: "I spoke to several agents in my sector who are in charge of processing. And the problem that we're seeing reflected through us as a voice is that some of these individuals that were apprehended with criminal records, they're not, they're checking their records, they see that they have criminal records, but they're setting them aside because at this point they are saying immigration is so tied up with trying to get the people who are on the waiting list to hurry up and get them their immigration status corrected."
    Trump: "Why?"
    Del Cueto: "So they can go ahead and vote before the election."
    At that point, Trump said, "Big statement, fellas." He later added. "That's huge. But they're letting people pour into the country so they can go and vote."
    Really? Wrong. Or maybe it's really wrong.
    First of all, that's not what Del Cueto said -- or at least that's not what he meant to say. Shawn Moran, a spokesman for the Border Patrol union, said his boss' words "could have been delineated a little better."
    What Del Cueto may have been saying is that manpower from the Border Patrol was being directed from checking criminal records of undocumented immigrants to helping to process the citizenship applications of legal immigrants in time to allow them to vote.
    Secondly, Trump's claim that immigrants are pouring across the border "to vote" is just not true.
    The Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged that there has been a surge of applications -- as there often is in the months leading up to a presidential election -- from immigrants who want to cast their ballots.
    However, a spokeswoman for Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, noted that immigrants have to prove they have lived in the US for five years as permanent legal residents before they are allowed to vote. That would make it kind of hard for undocumented immigrants to cross the border in order to cast ballots for -- or against -- Trump.