Immigration was, is, and always shall be one of America’s chief long term controversies. Public opinion is perpetually shattered in half—liberals calling conservatives heartless bigots and conservatives firing back with arguments that suggest amnesty can’t realistically be sustained. Differing political philosophies clash like the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.
In turn, it’s become very easy for American’s perspectives to become awash with rhetoric—rhetoric laced with misinformation that has inadvertently encouraged xenophobic attitudes. So, it’s become necessary to take a more realistic look at the state of immigration in America today.
Let’s first consider Donald Trump’s wildly controversial statements—statements mind you that have given him feverous support from millions of right leaning Americans. Trump has gone as far to call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Muslims haven’t been the only target of Trump. Earlier in his campaign he made extremely inflammatory remarks towards Mexican immigrants saying, “What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists.”
Trump has repeated this mantra ad nauseam with little in the way of actual facts. Unfortunately, because of his position as a major presidential candidate, many Americans are inclined to take his every word as truth. After all, what he’s been proudly proclaiming is based on very common preconceived negative stereotypes that many Americans have also falsely accepted as fact.
There is a strong reason to believe his outrageous remarks, which are repeatedly devoid of factual information, are made to exploit and piggyback on the support of xenophobic right wing Americans.
The Washington Post did some fact checking homework on Trump’s big claim that “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Not surprisingly, Trump has been exaggerating quite heavily. Washington Post writer Michelle Ye Hee Lee found that, “Of 78,022 primary offense cases in fiscal year 2013, 38.6 percent were illegal immigrant offenders. The majority of their cases (76 percent) were immigration related. Of total primary offenses, 17.6 percent of drug trafficking offenses and 3.8 percent of sex abuse were illegal immigrants. Of 22,878 drug crime cases, 17.2 percent were illegal immigrants.”
Lee also addressed more facts that disprove much of what Trump says about immigrants. Lee explains, “2010 Census data in a report from the American Immigration Council, a pro-immigration group, shows that 1.6 percent of immigrant males 18 to 39 years old were incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of native-born males. That disparity in incarceration rates has been consistent in the decennial Census since 1980, the report says.”
Regardless of Trump’s comments against Latino immigrants, the evidence is not there. Doing actual research proves that most of what he’s said, is simply hyperbole based on misconceptions.
It’s not just the Washington Post that’s taken the issue to task. In a similar article written by Albert R. Hunt for The New York Times, more damning facts were found that put the immigration issue into a different context. The reality of the immigration situation is not in alignment with the frenzied image Trump has created with his hateful rhetoric.
What Hunt found is that “Net migration from Mexico is negative, many experts say; more people are returning to Mexico than are illegally crossing the border into the United States.” This is a fact that many people in Trump’s camp, do not seem to be aware of.
There’s a myriad of other facts that dismantle a lot of popular notions about immigration. Namely that the number of undocumented immigrants is actually decreasing. There are currently 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, as compared to the more than 12 million there were in 2007. Also, the Obama Administration is actually responsible for more deportations than any other president in history, according to government data.
Obama has developed a reputation for being soft on immigration, for seemingly no real reason. Republicans like Trump have ridden this image with serious success, rallying an anti-immigration base that believes these candidates are the strict lawmakers that will squelch immigration. Ironically, the presidency currently spends more on fighting undocumented immigration than any other federal crime.
A large portion of the United States seems to be in a collective agreement with Trump. Sadly, many have not put much in the way of critical thought and are content with letting ignorance drive their thoughts on the crisis at hand.
Trump has been allowing his dangerous hyperbole to dehumanize multiple sects of people who are really just trying to live their lives. Like every single population to have ever existed, some turn to crime, but not nearly to the extent of which Trump preaches like the end all be all truth. Placing blame on problems that have very diverse factors causing them is highly irresponsible for a politician with such a large audience. One can only hope that primaries nominate candidates that don’t exploit ignorance for votes.