My blog about current
affairs and political stuff ....
affairs and political stuff ....
By Michelle Martin, PhD, MSW
Trump has a rather long and tortured history with the country of Mexico and its people, and he’s made no secret of his disdain for both. Remember how he announced his presidential candidacy?
"…when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. 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. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re not sending us not the right people."
He’s been tweeting about his hostility toward Mexico for years, primarily related to business deals gone bad— a 2006 conflict with a Mexican businessman involving the Miss Universe pageant. Trump sued and won, but couldn't collect the money.
A multimillion dollar luxury condo project in Baja that Trump, his children and developers walked away from in 2009, despite selling 80% and collecting $32.5 million in deposits. Trump was later sued by 70 owners who paid millions in deposits for condos that were never completed. Trump ended up settling out of court for an unspecified amount.
Trump was then sued by the Martínez Veloz, on behalf of the Mexican government. The suit accuses Trump of failing to pay taxes on the $32.5 million in predevelopment condo sales for the Baja project. The suit is still pending, and was expanded in 2017 to include a charge of violating Mexican law by purchasing land for the resort without a permit.
Here some additional articles on President Trump's past legal challenges in Mexico.
"The Man Who Made Donald Trump Hate Mexico" (The Daily Beast)
"Trump Accused of Tax Fraud in Mexico" (The Hill)
"Donald Trump Once Got Fleeced in Mexico and He's Still Very Angry (Bloomberg)
And here are a few of his many tweets over the years describing his hostility toward Mexico, including its court system and business practices:
And when things didn’t go his way in the Mexican court system, Trump tweeted this:
If his assertions are accurate—if immigrants do commit more violent crime, if our southern border is extremely dangerous, if Mexico does rank “number one” on the list of most dangerous countries, and if undocumented immigrants do bring a massive amount of drugs across the border, then the stats will bear that out, and his bad history with Mexico will likely be irrelevant.
Myth 1: Immigrants Commit More Violent Crime than Native-Born Americans
In his speech on June 16, 2015, declaring his candidacy for president, Trump used the "consensus effect" (everybody knows this) to defend his assertions about Mexican immigrants an crime:
“I can never apologize for the truth. I don’t mind apologizing for things. But I can’t apologize for the truth. I said tremendous crime is coming across. Everybody knows that’s true. And it’s happening all the time. So, why, when I mention, all of a sudden I’m a racist. I’m not a racist. I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”
And in an interview a few weeks after his candidacy announcement, he blamed the Mexican government for "forcing" their criminals into the United States:
“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, etc.”
More recently, in a speech on June 19, 2018, Trump stated this about the Central American political-asylum seekers coming through the southern the border:
“…If they’re good, that’s great. And if they’re bad. You’ll have killings, you’ll have murders, you’ll have this, you’ll have that, and you’ll have crime. You’ll have crime.”
So, do immigrants, particularly immigrants coming through Mexico (documented and undocumented), commit more violent crimes than native-born Americans? No.
The relationship between immigrants and criminality has been studied for more than a century, and there have been hundreds of studies examining this issue. There is no question about this, the consensus of the research is clear, immigrants (both documented and undocumented) commit far fewer violent crimes compared to native-born Americans.
These studies are pretty powerful because if you know anything about our criminal justice system, you know that it’s filled with racial disparities—racial profiling in arrests (Google veil of darkness traffic stops), disparity in indictments, and disparity in sentencing laws. So the fact that despite mass racial disparities throughout the U.S. criminal justice system, immigrants from south of the border, and particularly undocumented immigrants have far fewer arrests and far lower incarceration rates compared to native-born Americans, is pretty telling.
Here’s a graph from a 2015 study examining the violent crimes of over 71,000 defendants in the United States conducted by the United States Sentencing Commission. As you can see, U.S. citizens commit far more violent crimes compared to both documented and undocumented immigrants.
Trump used statistics from an earlier United States Sentencing Commission report as verification of his claim that Mexico sends its “worst,” but it turns out he was including immigration-related crimes, which of course would increase arrest and incarceration rates for undocumented immigrants.
When only violent crimes are examined, arrest and incarceration rates for undocumented immigrants drop significantly.
Click HERE for the original research stats.
Click HERE for the Business Insider summary.
Trump talks a lot about immigrants committing murder, and yet, out of the 91 murders examined in 2015 by the United States Sentencing Commission, only 11 were committed by immigrants from south of the border.
Trump’s statements about immigrants and rape are probably the strongest among all of his claims of violent crime committed by this population. For instance, Trump expressed anger in response to the Central American migrant caravan that walked to Mexico city in April 2018 to increase awareness of their plight. When media reports came out that some of the migrants may continue north to the United States, Trump stated:
“They're not putting their good ones. And remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower when I opened. Everybody said, 'Oh, he was so tough.' And I used the word 'rape.' And yesterday it came out where, this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don't want to mention that”
The thing is, there were no reports released the day before, or at any time by the media or law enforcement about rapes within the caravan. And human rights workers and members of the press who were walking alongside the migrants, heard nothing about rapes of the women and girls in the caravan.
With regard to crime statistics, the United States Sentencing Commission found that among all sexual assaults included in the study, 95% were committed by native-born U.S. citizens.
Here’s a 2018 report by the Cato Institute, a non-partisan “think tank” that researches American public policy. This report examined all crimes in Texas during 2015. The crimes were analyzed based on type (murder, sexual assault, etc.) and demographics (native-born U.S. citizens, all immigrants, undocumented immigrants).
The study was based on the total number of arrests by Texas police in 2015, which included 815,689 arrests of natives, 37,776 arrests of undocumented immigrants, and 20,323 arrests of documented immigrants.
Of the 815,689 total arrests, there were 430,459 convictions, of which 409,063 were of native-born Americans, 13,753 were of undocumented immigrants, and 7,643 were of documented immigrants (See Figure 1).
There were a total of 951 homicide convictions in Texas in 2015, and native-born Americans were convicted of 885 of them. Undocumented immigrants were convicted of 51, and documented immigrants were convicted of 15 (see Figure 2).
Click HERE for the entire report.
Immigrants also have far lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans, according to Census data and a report by the American Immigration Council. Census data (1980 to 2010, the most recent data available) shows that incarceration rates among younger white native-born American males with high school diplomas were three times higher than those of young men from Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala (with lower levels of education) living in the United States. When the age range is expanded to 18 – 39, the incarceration rates for native-born American males were five times higher.
One of the largest studies ever conducted on this issue examined the violent crime rates in 2015 of over 45 million male native-born Americans, second-generation immigrants, and undocumented immigrants, between the ages 18 to 39. The study found that undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America had the lowest incarceration rates by far, followed by second-generation immigrants, and then native-born Americans. In fact, native-born Americans had by far the highest rates of incarceration among the two groups.
Click HERE for the entire report.
The pattern of second-generation immigrants having higher incarceration rates than their undocumented “co-ethnics” was interesting to me, so I searched for other studies that also showed this trend. I found a 2013 study conducted by the Pew Research Center that showed first generation immigrants had by far the lowest crime rates, whereas second-generation immigrant crime rates more closely resembled those of native-born Americans. Researchers believe this trend shows how criminalization may be a part of the “Americanization process.”
Also, the overall rate for violent crime in the United States has sharply decreased in the last 25 years, according to the FBI (by almost half). So other than the steady rise in mass shooter incidents, overall the U.S. is a pretty safe place to live.
Myth 2 - Our Southern Border is Dangerous
Mostly False (depends on which side you're talking about)
In advance of the Trump administration’s roll-out of their immigration framework, and a few days after the bipartisan Graham-Durbin immigration bill was introduced, President Trump tweeted several times about the dangers of our southern border.
So is our southern border extremely dangerous? Surprisingly, no.
Living on the Mexico side of the border is generally unsafe, depending on the area. But crime statistics show that the U.S. side of the southern border is actually quite safe. In fact, it’s far safer than similar communities further away from the border, according to the Wilson Center, a non-partisan U.S. research organization that researches U.S./Mexico border safety.
Click HERE for their 2013 report.
Click HERE for the summary of their upcoming 2018 report.
Myth 3: Mexico is the Most Dangerous Country in the World
On the day following the introduction of the Graham-Durbin immigration bill and a few days before rolling out his immigration framework on January 24, 2018, President Trump tweeted that Mexico was rated the most dangerous country in the world ("now rated the number one").
So is Mexico ranked the most dangerous country in the world? No.
But first, I want to point out that the official ranking goes the other way, with number one being the safest country in the world, and the last country on the list being the most dangerous. So if Mexico was rated “number one,” that would mean it was the safest country in the world (which it’s not, but neither is the U.S.).
The 2018 rankings weren’t out at the time of Trump’s tweet, but according to the Global Peace Index Ranking for 2017, Iceland was the safest country in the world at #1 and Syria was the most dangerous country at #163. Mexico was ranked #140, and the United States was ranked #121. The 2018 rankings released in June 2018 showed no changes for Mexico or the United States (or for Iceland and Syria).
Myth 4: Undocumented Immigrants are flooding across the border and they’re bringing drugs with them
This appears to be a regular rallying cry of the Trump administration. Undocumented immigrants are bringing their drugs.
In July of 2017, during a press briefing, Trump stated this about how drugs were smuggled into the country:
“As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over.”
There hasn’t been a single report of anyone getting hit on the head with a bag of drugs flung over a border wall or fence.
U.S. Border Patrol reports indicate that the majority of drugs trafficked into our country from Mexico are transported in cars that are not driven by undocumented immigrants.
Since all vehicles entering the United States must go through a U.S. port of entry, it makes no sense that the cartel would hire someone without valid documentation to make that trip.
In fact, the majority of drivers smuggling drugs into the U.S. either have valid documentation (such as a U.S. passport) or they are U.S. citizens. This would include unsuspecting U.S. citizens. Border patrol officers have found an increasing number of magnetized cylinders, containing drugs, placed underneath the cars of unsuspecting border crossers in the “trusted traveler” lane (the SENTRI program).
So while it’s true that we have a very serious problem with drugs coming across the Mexican border, it not true that it’s undocumented immigrants who are doing the driving (or tunneling, sailing or flying).
President Trump and his administration’s assertions regarding immigrants and crime are not supported by research or crime statistics. In light of what many perceive as Trump's tendency to seek revenge against those he perceives have wronged him, it’s possible that his history of legal troubles in Mexico may be influencing his current stance toward both the country, and its people, with Central American refugees being grouped in by proxy. Intention is always difficult to determine with certainty, but it's worth exploring.
Dr. Ruben Rumbaut (and colleagues), a sociologist and expert on immigration from University of California, Irvine, has this to say about the myth of immigrants and crime:
“Periods of increased immigration have historically been accompanied by nativist alarms, perceptions of threat, and pervasive stereotypes of newcomers, particularly during economic downturns or national crises … and when immigrants have arrived en masse and differed substantially from the native-born in religion, language, physical appearance, and world region of origin. The present period is no exception—with the twist that “illegal immigrants” are now singled out with added animus and framed as harbingers of crime.”
I couldn't have said it better myself...
Dr. Michelle Martin is a social worker, policy specialist and Assistant Professor at California State University, Fullerton in the Department of Social Work, where she teaches social welfare policy, and researches dynamics related to immigrants, political asylum-seekers, refugees and other displaced populations.
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