Im­mi­gra­tion: Para­dox im­mersed in am­bi­gu­ity

The Catoosa County News - - COMMENTARY -

Since be­com­ing a na­tion our poli­cies to­ward im­mi­gra­tion have hardly been straight­for­ward.

We have the world’s great­est melt­ing pot story, but we have also en­slaved Africans and slaugh­tered and dis­pos­sessed Na­tive Amer­i­cans through our own unique form of eth­nic cleans­ing. We slaugh­tered them, took their land and ban­ished those who were left to reser­va­tions.

We have also at var­i­ous times dis­crim­i­nated against Ir­ish, Ital­ians, Ger­mans, Chi­nese, Jews and other for­eign­ers, par­tic­u­larly if they hap­pened to be dark-skinned, Jewish or Catholic. And a few times we have grudg­ingly ac­cepted im­mi­grants, but only when we needed them. And, sur­pris­ingly, the lat­est gen­er­a­tions of im­mi­grants are not al­ways en­thu­si­as­tic about wel­com­ing the next wave ei­ther. We hu­mans are like that.

Don­ald Trump tells us we have lost con­trol of our bor­ders, as if we ever had any real con­trol. The one of which he speaks, of course, is our south­ern bor­der with Mex­ico. This bor­der has al­ways been some­what por­ous ever since we an­nexed over a third of Mex­ico’s ter­ri­tory fol­low­ing the Mex­i­can War. But th­ese im­mi­grants, just as il­le­gal drugs, wouldn’t be com­ing here if there weren’t a de­mand for them. The crops in the West, South­west and Florida would go un­har­vested were it not for low-wage mi­grant work­ers, mostly il­le­gal.

Lo­cally peo­ple have been con­cerned about the whole­sale in­flux of Mex­i­cans to the Dal­ton area. At times the Dal­ton pub­lic school en­roll­ment has been half His­panic or more. And names on the lo­cal police blot­ter like Brown, Hat­field and Smith now in­clude Gon­za­lez, Martinez and Lopez. But were it not for th­ese il­le­gals the car­pet in­dus­try might have long since fled the Dal­ton area for off-shore lowwage/low-tax havens. And they are gen­er­ally tak­ing jobs few Amer­i­cans would ac­cept any­way.

Dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign Don­ald Trump con­vinced south­ern­ers and north­ern blue-col­lar work­ers that job losses and high crime rates were the re­sult of the Democrats’ free-trade and lib­eral im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies. He was not only dead wrong, he was flat-out ly­ing. But how does Trump get by with telling such whop­pers? He must be con­fi­dent his sup­port­ers will not bother to check the facts. And they ap­par­ently don’t.

Do im­mi­grants ac­tu­ally bring more vi­o­lent crime to this coun­try? Con­trary to Trump’s claims, im­mi­grants com­mit far fewer crimes of all types than na­tive-born Amer­i­cans. Ac­cord­ing to a 2015 re­port by the Amer­i­can Im­mi­gra­tion Coun­cil, while the U.S. pop­u­la­tion grew more than 5% over the past 25 years, vi­o­lent crime of most types dropped dra­mat­i­cally. While our for­eign-born pop­u­la­tion grew from 7.9% in 1990 to 13.1% in 2013, FBI records re­veal that vi­o­lent crime (as­sault, rape, armed rob­bery etc.) ac­tu­ally dropped by a whop­ping 48%. To­day’s in­car­cer­a­tion rates for im­mi­grant males be­tween 18-39 years are 1.8% com­pared to 3.3% for na­tive-born of­fend­ers. Th­ese statis­tics were gath­ered from Cal­i­for­nia court and pri­son records, the state with the largest non­white im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tion. Us­ing th­ese num­bers and ap­ply­ing Trump-style logic (a con­tra­dic­tion in terms if one ever ex­isted), to fur­ther lower the crime rate maybe we should open the flood gates to whole­sale im­mi­gra­tion.

Ge­orge B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at reed1600@bell­

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