PolitiFact roundup

PolitiFact recently checked out a Georgia candidate for governor’s claim about the state’s low minimum wage; a conservative commentator linking the U.S. opioid crisis to the lack of a border wall; and President Trump linking immigration laws and policy to U.S. gang violence. Here are summaries of our findings. Full versions can be found at www.politifact.com.

Georgia “has the lowest minimum wage in the country.”

— Stacey Evans on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 in campaign website

We wondered if Georgia has the lowest minimum wage in the nation, as she says.

It does, but it’s not alone (tied with Wyoming), and most hourly wage employees are paid above the state’s minimum wage. Georgia’s state law sets the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour, but the federal Fair Labor Standards Act applies, meaning most employees are covered under the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Georgia is one of seven states that have either a lower state minimum wage than the federal standard, or no state minimum wage at all, said Wesley Tharpe, research director at the left-leaning think tank Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

“In practice, the vast majority of workers in every state are subject to the federal requirement of $7.25 an hour,” Tharpe said.

Our ruling

Evans’ statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information. We rate it Mostly True.

“100% of heroin/fentanyl epidemic is because we don’t have a WALL.”

— Ann Coulter on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 in a tweet

A bipartisan commission President Donald Trump created concluded the epidemic is a result of “excessive prescribing of opioids since 1999” compounded by the “widespread availability of inexpensive and purer illicit heroin; the influx of highly potent fentanyl/fentanyl analogs.”

Heroin is most smuggled through Mexico. Fentanyl mainly originates in China and comes in through the southwest border, Canada and the U.S. Postal Service. The fentanyl found at the southern border tends to be less potent than the fentanyl shipped through the mail.

Experts told PolitiFact in October they’re skeptical a wall would have a drastic impact on American opioid use.

Even though a lot of heroin comes from Mexico, it’s not always walked across the border. As PolitiFact pointed out in this fact check of Trump, traffickers typically smuggle the drugs in through secret compartments in vehicles crossing the border (through legal checkpoints and illegal crossings), transport them to stash houses in hub cities like Dallas, Los Angeles and Phoenix, and then distribute to the Midwest and East Coast.

Trump’s opioid commission seemed more concerned with fentanyl shipments from China than couriers from Mexico.

Our ruling

Coulter’s “100 percent” claim is far off-base no matter how we parse it. We rate this claim Pants on Fire.

Many gang members have taken advantage of “glaring loopholes and our laws to enter the country as illegal, unaccompanied, alien minors.”

— President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 in his State of the Union address

The White House did not provide on-the-record information to back the president’s claim. He linked illegal immigration to the violence of the notorious El Salvadoran MS-13 gang, claiming “open borders” have caused the death of many people in the United States.

What Trump refers to as “loopholes” are protections for undocumented minors called for by law. Some of these minors are actually fleeing gang violence in their own countries. Experts note that unaccompanied minors are vulnerable to gang recruitment after their arrival in the United States.

Immigration experts told us that while gang members can apply for asylum, it would be difficult for them to receive it.

Our ruling

What Trump in the past has referred to as “loopholes” are requirements explicitly called for in the law. It’s also uncertain how many gang members have come to the United States as unaccompanied minors, but some law enforcement officials said some have. Experts note unaccompanied minors are vulnerable to recruitment after their arrival to the United States. In many cases, these minors are the victims of the gangs rather than perpetrators of crime.

We rate Trump’s claim Half True.

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