Editorial: Fear, facts and ignorance
● By Richard Gaw
Right now, though, the stories being told about the people in these migrating caravans are part myth, but mostly they are lies, masked as warning, and perpetrated on an uninformed public in order to evoke fear. It began on the day in 2015, when the President of the United States descended an elevator in Trump Tower in New York City to declare his candidacy for the office he now holds.
“When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," he told the crowd. “They're sending people that have a lot 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.” Some opposed to his remark called it “racist,” but it served as the red meat statement that helped to burnish his reputation to hold the line on illegal immigration.
The lather of fear was really just beginning to be whipped up. Earlier this year, in an address to California legislators opposed to “sanctuary cities” policies, the President said, “We have people coming into the country or trying to come in, we're stopping a lot of them, but we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals.”
In his effort to curry more favor and peddle fear among those opposed to any immigration loopholes that would permit undocumented immigrants to come to the country, the President has tossed a tarpaulin of stereotype over this caravan, made up mostly of women and children who intend to seek asylum in either Mexico or the United States. Yet as we wait for the Department of Justice to decide how it will control, disperse, grant asylum or reject this migrating flock when it does arrive at our border, recent studies conclude that being foreign born is not significantly associated with committing violent crimes.
Using 2015 data from the State of Texas, the Cato Institute analyzed the arrest rate comparison between illegal immigrants and native-born residents, and learned that police made 815,689 arrests of native-born Americans, 37,776 arrests of immigrants in the country illegally and 20,323 arrests of legal immigrants. The arrest rate for illegal immigrants was 40 percent below that of native-born Americans.
Additional studies show that illegal immigration does not increase the prevalence of violent crime or drug and alcohol problems. In a study conducted by Michael Light, a criminologist at the University of Wisconsin, he said that despite the increase in undocumented citizens in the U.S. since 1990, violent crime – murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault – among this population has not increased over that time period.
While we understand that these studies are not a complete reflection of each and every undocumented immigrant currently residing in the U.S. or attempting to seek asylum here, neither is the current fervor pitch of ugly rhetoric coming from the White House, which claims that an entire population is a threat to our safety. The conversation, we feel, needs to spin on its axis, and focus its energies on how these people should be treated when they eventually arrive at our borders.
Slug: editorial nov. 7