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Donald Trump’s faulty immigration arguments

President Donald Trump renewed attacks on America’s immigration policies Friday. Hosting folks carrying large portraits of loved ones “permanently separated” by illegal immigrants, Trump said that “we’re gathered today to hear directly from the American victims of illegal immigration. You know you hear the other side, you never hear this side. You don’t know what is going on,” Trump said, speaking in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building highlighting ‘angel families.’ These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones. The word permanently being the word that you have to think about. Permanently. They are not separated for a day or two days. Permanently separated.”

Clearly Mr. Trump is referring to the Administration’s policy to criminally prosecute all illegal border crossings, which led to the separation of children from their parents. When parents are detained for illegal border crossings, their children are transferred to the Department of Human Services, which finds temporary housing and eventually foster homes or facilities. Trump, due to intense political and public pressure, issued an Executive Order to keep detained families together, despite claiming that only Congress can change the Administration’s controversial zero-tolerance policy.

Trump began a campaign-like effort over the weekend to persuade folks that America needs stronger immigration polices. His approach is crime, arguing that illegal immigrants are far more likely to commit crimes than American citizens.

“I always hear that, ‘Oh, no, the population’s safer than the people that live in the country,,” said Trump on Thursday. “You’ve heard that, fellas, right? You’ve heard that. I hear it so much, and I say, ‘Is that possible?’ The answer is it’s not true. You hear it’s like they’re better people than what we have, than our citizens. It’s not true.”

The Cato Institute disputes this claim, per the Associated Press. The Libertarian think tank concluded that “people here illegally are less likely to commit crime than U.S. citizens, and legal immigrants are even less likely to do so.” For example:

Natives were convicted of 409,063 crimes, illegal immigrants were convicted of 13,753 crimes, and legal immigrants were convicted of 7,643 crimes in Texas in 2015. Thus, there were 1,749 criminal convictions of natives for every 100,000 natives, 782 criminal convictions of illegal immigrants for every 100,000 illegal immigrants, and 262 criminal convictions of legal immigrants for every 100,000 legal immigrants (Figure 1). As a percentage of their respective populations, there were 56 percent fewer criminal convictions of illegal immigrants than of native-born Americans in Texas in 2015. The criminal conviction rate for legal immigrants was about 85 percent below the native-born rate.

The Associated Press continues:

A March study by the journal Criminology found “undocumented immigration does not increase violence.” The study, which looked at the years 1990 through 2014, argues that states with bigger shares of such people have lower crime rates.

The Administration said Wednesday that they’re ordering up to 4,000 National Guard troops to our southern border, claiming “drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border.” However, as the Business Insider points out, “data from the Customs and Border Protection agency actually show that arrests for illegal border crossing has been falling for years and now hovers near the bottom of a 40-year low.”‘

Even towns along the border are wondering what Trump is referring to.

“There is not a crisis in the city of Brownsville with regards to safety and security,” said Tony Martinez, who is mayor to Brownsville, a border town in Texas. “There’s no gunfire. Most of the people that are migrating are from Central America. It’s not like they’re coming over here to try to take anybody’s job. They’re trying to just save their own lives. We’re doing fine, quite frankly.”

In Nogales, Ariz., which borders and shares its name with a Mexican city, the number of violent crimes plummeted by more than 70 percent from 1997 to 2016. Similar trends can be seen in San Luis, Somerton and Yuma. The overall crime rate in Arizona has also dropped by more than a third from 1993 to 2016. During that same time, the state’s undocumented-immigrant population more than doubled, according to the Pew Research Center.

Trump isn’t necessarily wrong about the need for immigration reform:

Unfortunately for this administration, every argument and policy change has fallen flat. Trump’s abrasive and confrontational language only toughens the stance of Democrats and liberals, who he needs to cooperatively develop stronger immigration policies. Then again we’re talking about Trump, the guy who autographed those portraits of 11 family members killed by illegal immigrants, even joking that one had a resemblance to Tom Selleck. Because of course he did.

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