FACT CHECK: NYT Fact Checks On Trump’s Claims About Migrants And Afghanistan Withdrawal Are Misleading

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

Former President Donald Trump claimed during his June 27 debate with President Joe Biden that migrants were being housed in “luxury hotels” in New York City and other cities and that “I was getting out of Afghanistan.” The New York Times (NYT) rated these two claims as “false” and “misleading.”

“I was getting out of Afghanistan…” -rated “misleading” by the NYT. 

The NYT’s fact-check reads:

“It is certainly true that Mr. Trump often said, in the 2016 campaign, that he wanted to pull American troops out of Afghanistan. But at the end of his presidency, a small force remained, and while he said on social media that all forces should be home by Christmas 2020, he never executed on that promise. President Biden did pull them out. But it was poorly executed.”

Trump’s administration signed an agreement with the Taliban, which excluded the Afghan government, in February 2020 that would see the United States withdraw from the country by May 1, 2021. The NYT did not mention this withdrawal agreement in its fact-check.

The Trump administration also pressured the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, according to PolitiFact. The agreement reads, “The United States is committed to start immediately to work with all relevant sides on a plan to expeditiously release combat and political prisoners as a confidence building measure with the coordination and approval of all relevant sides.”

“Up to five thousand (5,000) prisoners of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and up to one thousand (1,000) prisoners of the other side will be released by March 10, 2020..” the agreement reads.

There were 2,500 troops left in Afghanistan on Jan. 15, 2021, the lowest number of American troops in the country since the war started, according to The Associated Press. The Biden White House released a document about the timeline of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. (RELATED: Fact-Checking Trump’s Claim That The US Left $85 Billion Worth Of Equipment In Afghanistan)

“Over his last 11 months in office, President Trump ordered a series of drawdowns of U.S. troops. By June 2020, President Trump reduced U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 8,600. In September 2020, he directed a further draw down to 4,500,” the White House document reads.

The NYT and the White House document also mentioned an October 2020 tweet from Trump saying that all troops in Afghanistan should be home by “Christmas.”

“On September 28, 2021, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Milley testified that, on November 11, he had received an unclassified signed order directing the U.S. military to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan no later than January 15, 2021. One week later, that order was rescinded and replaced with one to draw down to 2,500 troops by the same date,” the document continues.

The U.S. completely withdrew from Afghanistan under Biden by Aug. 30, 2021, though 13 U.S. service members and 170 Afghan civilians died when an ISIS-K suicide bomber detonated a bomb at Abbey Gate.

Karoline Leavitt, Trump campaign spokesperson, told Check Your Fact in an email that it was “[m]ore BS from the New York Times, as usual.” Leavitt also gave Check Your Fact bullet points about Trump’s claims related to Afghanistan.

Biden has never taken responsibility for his exit from Afghanistan, saying he makes “no apologies” and has even claimed that his deadly withdrawal was a success,” one bullet stated.

Another bullet point stated that [u]nder President Trump the U.S. was following through on his promise and taking a decisive step to achieve negotiated peace in Afghanistan.”

“Just take a look at where they are living. They are living in luxury hotels in New York City and other places.” -rated “false” by the NYT. 

The NYT’s fact-check reads:

“Tens of thousands of migrants who crossed the border into the United States were offered free bus rides to Democratic cities under a program started by Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas in an attempt to spread the burden of the large influx. Some cities, like New York and Denver, have housed migrants in hotels, especially during the winter months. The migrants were not in luxury hotels.”

The NYT reported in March 2023 that New York City has “spent millions to convert upscale hotels, humble motels and even office buildings into housing for an influx of migrants.” These hotels include “the Row,” described as a “four-star hotel” by The New York Times in May 2024. The hotel was characterized as “luxury” by ABC 7 in Oct. 2022.

Synonyms and similar words for “upscale” include fashionable, elegant, exclusive, highend, upmarket and luxurious, according Merriam-Webster online dictionary. (RELATED: Did The U.S. Treasury Department Fly The Palestinian Flag?)

Another four-start hotel that has been converted to a migrant shelter was the Collective Paper Factory, according to the New York Post. The outlet said the hotel was “high-end” and included “a gym, communal spaces, meeting rooms, a bar and restaurant.” The New York Post also reported that the “chic” Square Hotel was also being used to house migrants.

Leavitt directed Check Your Fact to reporting from Fox News on migrants living in the Roosevelt Hotel and Watson Hotel.

Check Your Fact reached out to The New York Times for comment.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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