When President Barack Obama outlined his plan to use Executive Action to address the problem of immigration in the United States, he drew praise from the left and criticism from the right.  The President used stats to back up several points he made about the current state of affairs along this country's borders, among them that border security was already doing a good job, in that the number of attempted illegal border crossings is relatively low.

During his nationally televised speech, President Obama said the following:

"Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts."

Our partners at PolitiFact took a look at that statement and decided to see if it was accurate.  PolitiFact reporter Joshua Gillin says that Obama's statement rates HALF TRUE on the Truth-O-Meter.  Gillin says that there's a lot of difficulty in coming up with accurate numbers to make such a claim.

"The problem with President Obama's statement is that what he's trying to say is not actually what he said," said Gillin.  "He's talking about people trying to illegally cross the border.  The problem here is that the federal government doesn't actually keep those kind of statistics relating to border crossings, but they do keep statistics for apprehensions."

Taking a look at apprehensions, Gillin says that there were just over 420,000 people apprehended trying to cross the border illegally.  "Working back through the years of data, you'd have to get back to 1973 and 1972 to see apprehension numbers below the 2013 mark of 420,789," said Gillin.  "On the surface, you might think it's all cut and dried.  It's true.  Mark it TRUE and let's all go home.  Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find that the way apprehensions were tabulated in the 1970's by the Border Patrol is completely different than it is today."

How different?  Gillin says that repeat offenders back then were counted every time they illegally crossed.  "Look at it this way.  Suppose you had one person in 1973 trying to illegally cross the border.  Let's say that he was apprehended and sent back across the border.  That's one instance of an apprehension.  Now, let's say that this same person tries to do the same thing twenty times in the same calendar year, and that he's apprehended every time.  The Border Patrol at the time would count that as twenty apprehensions, and not the apprehension of one person as they do today."

Gillin says that because the way of counting people trying to illegally cross the border has changed over the years, combined with the fact that the Border Patrol only tabulates the number of people apprehended instead of attempting a crossing leads PolitiFact to give President Obama's claim a HALF TRUE on the Truth-O-Meter.