The price of re­ject­ing re­al­ity

Walker County Messenger - - Front Page -

One of Pres­i­dent Trump’s most per­sis­tent and per­ni­cious lies is that im­mi­grants cause an in­crease in crime. That’s not true. So his whole ap­proach to im­mi­gra­tion is rooted in a false­hood, and that makes ra­tio­nal de­ci­sion-mak­ing vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble.

Im­mi­gra­tion is only one ex­am­ple of a much larger prob­lem. The pres­i­dent’s predilec­tion for em­brac­ing “al­ter­na­tive facts” and deny­ing the truth cor­rupts his judg­ment on a wide va­ri­ety of is­sues, from free trade and eco­nomic growth to cli­mate change and re­la­tions with Rus­sia.

“We’re mak­ing de­ci­sions based not on facts and data, but on emo­tion, pref­er­ence, griev­ance, loy­alty, trib­al­ism,” for­mer CIA di­rec­tor Michael Hay­den told CBS.

Rep. Mark San­ford, who was de­feated in a Repub­li­can pri­mary after he crossed Trump, warned in the Wash­ing­ton Post, “We have be­come so de­sen­si­tized to the pres­i­dent’s tor­tured re­la­tion­ship with the truth that we don’t chal­lenge the in­ac­cu­rate things he and oth­ers say. There should be con­se­quences to mak­ing things up. But in­ex­pli­ca­bly, as a so­ci­ety, we have some­how fallen into col­lec­tive am­ne­sia that it doesn’t mat­ter when the high­est of­fice­holder in the land doesn’t tell the truth.”

As a can­di­date, Trump de­nounced Mex­i­can im­mi­grants as “rapists” and drug smug­glers, and he’s con­tin­ued that in­cen­di­ary -- and in­ac­cu­rate -rhetoric into his pres­i­dency. Re­cently he warned about “mur­der­ers and thieves and so much else” who are “in­vad­ing” and “in­fest­ing” the coun­try, and staged a White House event fea­tur­ing vic­tims of im­mi­grant crim­i­nals.

Those vic­tims and crim­i­nals do ex­ist, but Trump’s cam­paign of fear deeply dis­torts the larger story. As the Post re­ports: “The so­cialscience re­search on im­mi­gra­tion and crime is clear: Un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants are con­sid­er­ably less likely to com­mit crimes than na­tive­born cit­i­zens, with im­mi­grants legally in the United States even less likely to do so.”

One study by the Cato In­sti­tute, a lib­er­tar­ian think tank, ex­am­ined Texas crime statis­tics for 2015 and con­cluded: “There were 56 per­cent fewer crim­i­nal con­vic­tions of il­le­gal im­mi­grants than of na­tive-born Amer­i­cans.” For le­gal im­mi­grants, the crime rate “was about 85 per­cent be­low the na­tive-born rate.”

A study in the jour­nal Crim­i­nol­ogy pub­lished last March asked: “Do places with higher per­cent­ages

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