Facts keep getting in the way of Trump's bigoted and cruel anti-immigrant lies

Facts keep getting in the way of Trump's bigoted and cruel anti-immigrant lies
Image credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

President Donald Trump has pushed an extreme nativist, anti-immigrant agenda throughout his tenure. He has separated migrant children from their families in a "zero-tolerance policy" to try to scare people fleeing hardship out of applying for refugee status. He signed an order that temporarily banned refugee resettlement. He has tried to ban asylum seekers from crossing the border, which a federal court ruled illegal. And he has continued to try to implement a ban on "sanctuary cities" from federal funding, which a federal court also ruled illegal. And of course, he shut down the government to try to bully Congress into funding his border wall.

Trump has done this, he says, to protect America from a wave of danger and death that outsiders are bringing. He frequently uses the rhetoric of war, claiming during the election that a Central American migrant caravan heading for the U.S. was an "invasion" of "stone cold criminals" and suggested "unknown Middle Easterners" were in with the asylum seekers, a clear hint-hint that they might be terrorists. As a presidential candidate, he also claimed that migrants bring "tremendous" diseases to the U.S.

But every day, more and more evidence is proving Trump's claims were just a bunch of xenophobic lies.

Take sanctuary cities. In reality, all that means is that a city's law enforcement will not demand a suspect's immigration papers, or turn over a nonviolent detainee to ICE without a warrant — a pretty basic safeguard of people's Fourth Amendment rights. But Trump has portrayed them as lawless hellscapes where people live in constant fear of violence and murder. His 2017 executive order to defund sanctuary jurisdictions said they have "caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic."

In fact, the latest data show that crime is at record lows in San Francisco following California enacting its sanctuary state law last year (although San Francisco itself had a sanctuary law long before that). Los Angeles reports a drop in crime this year as well. This is consistent with long-standing evidence that sanctuary cities are in fact safer — because residents of color are more trusting of police and more willing to report crimes.

Trump's attacks on refugees are similarly a misfire. Not only is there no evidence migrant caravans pose any risk of disease, and not only has Trump himself admitted he has no evidence terrorists are sneaking in with asylum seekers, a recent study concluded that Trump's refugee resettlement ban "had no discernible effect on county-level crime rates" for any type of crime. Moreover, data show that Trump's cruel family separation policy did nothing to deter people fleeing violence in Central America from trying to enter the United States, with border arrests jumping 38 percent in August alone.

And then, of course, there is Trump's signature policy: building a wall on the Mexican border and making either Mexico or Democrats pay for it — he no longer seems to care which.

There is no end to the problems with Trump's wall proposal. The U.S. already has a network of walls and fences in all the places where it is geographically and legally practical to have one — some 580 miles in all — and a lot of the unwalled portions consist of rivers, national parks, sensitive wildlife areas, and private property. But the existing wall network is still instructive: aside from dividing border communities and making life hard for locals, those walls and fences are essentially worthless as border security because two thirds of undocumented immigrants come in through ports of entry, and because ladders exist. In fact, border barriers have increased the undocumented population because they forced Mexican migrant workers who would cross the border for seasonal work and return home after the growing season was over, to instead stay on the U.S. side.

In short, all of Trump's characterizations of immigration problems are wrong, and all of his solutions have backfired.


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