Saturday, May 6, 2017

Is the scapegoating of immigrants based on real fear or is it a deliberate strategy?

Asian Americans joined recent protests against Donald Trump's immigration policies.

ONCE AND FOR ALL, let's get this straight: undocumented immigrants do not raise the crime rate!

Despite the fear-mongering rhetoric and departmental decrees and executive orders coming from Donald Trump and his toadie Attorney General Jeff Sessions, numerous studies have shown that those cities that have establish good and trusting relationships with the immigrant communities, undocumented or not, crime statistics have been reduced.

In uncertain times spurred either by an unsteady economy or social unease, people look for a scapegoat. Hitler picked on the Jews, Pol Pot chose the educated elite, Shiite Muslims are blamed Sunni Muslims. From Day One of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, his bogeyman are immigrants. and the vast amount of crime they allegedly commit. More specifically, nonwhite immigrants. No one talks about the undocumented immigrants from Canada or Europe.

We Belong Together, an initiative of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, released a report on the impact of the president’s immigration executive orders on women and families. The report’s authors, Amanda Baran and Sameera Hafiz, write:
Prior to the election of Donald Trump, immigrant communities faced heightened levels of immigration enforcement and deportation, including the resurgence of home raids and the detention of mothers and children fleeing gender-based violence. In his first 100 days in office, Trump has dramatically shifted this baseline, criminalizing even the everyday actions of immigrant women and families.
An American Immigration Council study done in 2015 found that not only are immigrants less likely to commit serious crimes or be incarcerated than native-born residents, but high rates of immigration correlate with even lower rates of violent and property crimes.

"For more than a century, innumerable studies have confirmed two simple yet powerful truths about the relationship between immigration and crime: immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime," said the AIC study. 

"This holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized, regardless of their country of origin or level of education. In other words, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not 'criminals' by any commonly accepted definition of the term. For this reason, harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime."

The Trump administration's threat to withhold funds from so-called "sanctuary cities," has thus far, been tempered by the courts that have issued stay orders based on the apparent unconstitutionality of the federal decrees and policies. Sessions has vowed to appeal the judicial decision made in San Francisco.

Sessions threat came via sent a letter to 16 sanctuary jurisdictions including the state of California. A press release accompanying the letters falsely claims that “many of these jurisdictions are also crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime.”

Crime stats, however, show that immigrants are less likely to be criminals than native-born citizens. In fact, numerous studies conclude that cities that protect immigrants tend to have even less rates of crime when compared to others.
Using the language of fear, Texas' Senate Bill 4 is a legislative attempt to withhold monies from cities who do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officials and to allow local police to ask the status of anyone who looks suspiciously like an undocumented immigrant will also likely find itself in the courts when Gov. Abbott signs the bill, which he is very likely to do.
RELATED: Asian/American legislator makes emotional appeal vs. SB4
The police chiefs of eight major cities in Texas opposed SB4 and published a joint letter in the Dallas Morning News.

"Immigration enforcement is a federal obligation," says the letter. "While the federal government has not been able or willing to address this issue, any effort by the state of Texas to address immigration reform will be ineffective."

The letter from police chiefs said that "SB 4 is not the answer to immigration reform; rather it is political pandering that will make our communities more dangerous."

According tot he AIC study, as the immigrant population has increased over the years, rates of violent crime have decreased. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of undocumented immigrants went from 3.5 million to 11.2 million.

“During the same period, FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48 percent — which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder,” the study states. “Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41 percent.”
"Policymakers who look at the entire foreign-born population of the United States through a law-enforcement lens are seeing things that aren’t really there," said the AIC report. "As renowned psychologist Abraham H. Maslow wrote many years ago, 'it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.'

"The blunt weapon that is the U.S. immigration-enforcement apparatus is being wielded against a widening swath of the immigrant community, regardless of their ties to this country, regardless of whether or not they are actually criminals. It is long past time for U.S. immigration policies to accurately reflect the diversity and complexity of immigration to this country, based not on a reflexive politics of fear and myth, but on sound analysis and empirical evidence," the AIC concludes. 

But Trump and the power brokers he represents have shown a resistance to facts, preferring to use lies and half-truths in order to stoke the racial animus and fears of an uninformed populace so that they can stay on top of the social pecking  order, keep their own position of power. And if they can fatten their wallets along the way, so much the better.

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