The price of rejecting reality
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