Donald Trump loves a good anecdote, especially when it involves a disliked minority killing an upstanding white American citizen. Trump’s immigration speech was no exception, and he has often used anecdotal evidence of illegal immigrants committing violent crimes to support his demonizing of them as a group.
“Countless innocent American lives have been stolen because our politicians have failed in their duty to secure our borders and enforce our laws like they have to be enforced,” Trump said last Wednesday.
The number of lives that have been stolen can be counted. They are not countless. While it is true that American citizens have been murdered by undocumented immigrants, to use hyperbole like the word “countless” is lazy and irresponsible. Each one of the lives that were taken matter, and it seems rather heartless to just chalk up a person’s life to “countless lives.”
That being said, Trump is intentionally using an appeal to emotion to cover up the fact that he is wrong on the number of illegal aliens that are criminals. As of 2009, only 179,000 of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants were incarcerated, about 1.6% of the population. In contrast, the incarceration rate for citizens is 2.2%. The Congress Research Service found that the vast majority of crimes were non violent.
Compared with similar low income populations in border towns and New City, NBC cites two studies that show that undocumented immigrants are more law abiding and less violent that their citizen partners of similar socio-economic status.
Illegal immigration is at its lowest level since 1972, save movement from the recession in 2011. A much larger portion of the people coming over the border can be described as families and children that are fleeing the gang and drug violence along the border, not exactly hardened criminals. Not mention that the Obama administration has deported more immigrants than any other administration in history, not exactly “failing in their duty to secure our borders.”
While it is inevitable that some undocumented immigrants are committing violent crimes against US citizens, it is deplorable to exaggerate the facts by saying that “countless lives have been stolen.” Those lives can be counted, and they are less than have been “stolen” by the citizen population at large. It is disgusting and pandering that Trump is trotting out the families of slain citizens, disrespecting their memories in the worst way.