AP FACT CHECK: Trump hails auto revival that's not happened


DETROIT (AP) — President Donald Trump is hailing a renaissance in U.S. auto manufacturing that has not happened. The industry is chugging along without the “massive numbers” of car companies that he says are setting up shop in the country.

Always eager to claim a manufacturing revival, Trump in recent weeks has spread the notion that car makers are rushing to produce in the country. It’s become a leading justification for his apparent evolution on legal immigration, although whether he’s really changing on that subject is suspect, too. He now says the U.S. needs more foreign workers to keep up with the demand. But he’s misrepresenting the state of the auto industry.

A look at his comments:

TRUMP: “A lot of car companies are coming back to the United States. ” — Cabinet meeting Tuesday.

TRUMP: “We’re most proud of the fact — you look at the car companies, they’re moving back, they’re going into Michigan, they’re going into Pennsylvania, they’re going back to Ohio, so many companies are coming back.” — El Paso, Texas, rally Monday.

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TRUMP: “We have massive numbers of companies coming back into our country — car companies. We have seven car companies coming back in right now and there’s going to be a lot more.” — remarks to reporters Feb. 6.

THE FACTS: There’s no such discernible influx.

Since Trump took office in 2017, auto manufacturing employment has risen by about 51,000 jobs to just over 1 million, according to the Labor Department. That’s a 5 percent increase over two years.

There have been new factory announcements, but excluding those that were planned before Trump took office, they don’t add up to seven.

Last month, Volkswagen announced plans to expand manufacturing in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Toyota is building a new factory in Alabama with Mazda, and Volvo opened a plant in South Carolina last year, but in each case, that was in the works before Trump took office.

Fiat Chrysler also has nebulous plans to return some pickup truck production from Mexico to suburban Detroit next year, and it may reopen a small Detroit factory to build an SUV. At least one Chinese automaker wants to build in the U.S. starting next year but hasn’t announced a site.

Against those uncertain and limited gains, GM is laying people off and plans to close four U.S. factories. Both GM and Ford also are letting go of white-collar workers in restructuring efforts.

As for legal immigration, Trump asserted in his State of the Union address last week: “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever but they have to come in legally.”

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Although he has talked about switching to a merit-based, instead of family-based, immigration system, his policy proposals to date do not reflect a wish for more legal entries. He’s proposed sharp limits on the ability of citizens and permanent residents to bring in family, slashed the number of refugees the U.S. will accept for two years, proposed eliminating diversity visas and taken steps to limit asylum seekers — all paths for legal entry.


Woodward reported from Washington.


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