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A New Study Just Debunked Trump's Favorite Talking Point About Undocumented Immigrants
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=45531"><span class="small">Rebekah Entralgo, ThinkProgress</span></a>   
Monday, 13 May 2019 13:24

Entralgo writes: "A growth in the undocumented immigrant population is not associated with an increase in local crime, according to a new study from The Marshall Project. The findings directly contradict one of the president's favorite talking points about immigrants and crime."

Juan Quintero lifts his son Liam in the air in his home in New York. (photo: Getty Images)
Juan Quintero lifts his son Liam in the air in his home in New York. (photo: Getty Images)

A New Study Just Debunked Trump's Favorite Talking Point About Undocumented Immigrants

By Rebekah Entralgo, ThinkProgress

13 May 19

The report knocks down one of Trump's most popular xenophobic talking points.

growth in the undocumented immigrant population is not associated with an increase in local crime, according to a new study from The Marshall Project. The findings directly contradict one of the president’s favorite talking points about immigrants and crime.

This study, which focuses squarely on undocumented immigrants, uses local crime rates published by the FBI and concluded that between 2007 and 2016, almost every type of crime had a flat line trend, suggesting that any increase in undocumented immigrants has had no effect on crime. Areas with higher rates of illegal immigration actually appeared to have a slight drop in the crime rate.

Studies on undocumented immigrants are relatively rare, in part because it’s hard to collect data on them. While it is difficult to estimate the exact number of undocumented immigrants in the United States, the most recent available data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is from 2016 and puts the population roughly at 10.7 million, down a million and a half from 2007.

The study used Pew Research data on undocumented immigrants in various metropolitan areas, and looked at FBI data on violent crimes and property crimes, including assault, robbery, murder, burglary, and larceny. The majority of the areas had a decrease in both violent and property crime, which the researches note is “consistent with a quarter-century decline in crime across the United States.”

The study fits into a broader body of research, which has found that immigrants — both undocumented and documented — are less likely to be incarcerated and that undocumented immigration did not increase violent crime, but was rather associated with a slight decrease. These findings are consistent with a study published in Criminology, an academic journal, which concluded that undocumented immigration is associated with a decrease in crime, and one conducted by the libertarian Cato Institute, which found that undocumented immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated. The idea that immigrants, both undocumented and documented alike, don’t commit crimes at a rate any higher than native-born Americans should not be surprising, given that almost any criminal infraction can result in their deportation. Their future in the United States quite literally hinges on not committing a crime. Even a routine traffic stop can turn into a deportation case for an undocumented individual.

The false argument that all undocumented immigrants are rampant criminals has been used by the Trump administration to further weaponize the government’s immigration enforcement agencies.

When presented with the results of studies like that of The Marshall Project in the past, Trump has pointed to the immigrant population of federal prisons.

“You don’t really believe that stat, do you? Do you really believe that stat?” Trump told CNN reporter Jim Acosta in February, “Take a look at our federal prisons.”

According to federal data as of December 31, 2017, 17% of the people incarcerated in the federal prison system were confirmed to be undocumented, but that data is misleading.  State and local prisons account for 90% of the U.S. prison population. According to an independent estimate based on Census Bureau data in 2016, undocumented immigrants make up approximately 6% of inmates at the federal, state, and local level.

This false narrative has been also used by Trump to justify the national emergency declaration, stating that there is an “invasion” of “all types of criminals and gangs.” He has used it to threaten sanctuary cities, jurisdictions where local police are prohibited from collaborating with federal immigration authorities, and claimed immigration laws like asylum are “dangerous.”

“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Trump tweeted last month. “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!”

Trump has routinely invited the families of American’s killed by undocumented immigrants to high-profile White House events, using their tragedies to call for strict immigration laws.

“Not one more American life should be lost because our nation failed to control its very dangerous border,” Trump said during his State of the Union address.

“Angel moms, angel dads, angel families; These are great people,” Trump said at a press conference weeks later, when he declared a national emergency at the border. “They’re fighting for their children that have been killed by people who were illegally in this country. And the press doesn’t cover them. They don’t want to. And they’re not treated the way they should be. They are fighting for other people because they don’t want what happened to their children or husband or anybody.”

Despite the overall drop in crime, arrests of non-criminal undocumented immigrants have skyrocketed, particularly under the Trump administration. In the first 14 months of the Trump administration, 58,010 undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions were arrested — a 203% increase compared to the final 14 months of the Obama administration.

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+2 # DongiC 2019-05-14 01:50
Trump is a ruthless demagogue with a strange need to punish the weak and the helpless. In two years, he has eroded much of the good will that America had built up with many acts of kindness, large and small. From the Marshall Plan to the Peace Corps to countless acts of individual generosity to those in need, the United States distinguished itself in its aid to depressed people and societies.
But, Donald Trump's election signaled a different attitude in America's philanthropy. It represented a major change to many immigrants and to poorer people in general, especially, if they were Moslem.

Now, there is talk of walls along the border, undocumented immigrants, troops sent to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, children of immigrants detached from their parents and sent, heavens knows where, immigrants called racists and criminals and threats to our very society.

Our Commander-in-ch ief vents his anger in many different ways and seems intent on throwing the full force of the law against these poor and unfortunate immigrants. He is cruel and completely unfit to lead our nation. IMPEACH HIM ASAP !!!
+3 # E.V.Debs 2019-05-14 02:20
I appreciate the Marshall project's work, but Trump lives in a post-fact world he helped to create. A great many of undocs in Federal prisons are there for pissant crimes. Getting caught using a fake SS# after being deported once results commonly in a ten-year sentence. I used to get calls from CoreCivic/CCA prison inmates in Adams County, Mississippi from such inmates who were horrifically abused and mistreated. That pigsty closed recently.
0 # DongiC 2019-05-17 08:37
Bravo to you E.V.Debs. Your namesake would be proud of you.
+3 # elizabethblock 2019-05-14 07:14
The trouble is: The people who make decisions these days don't care about the facts.