In my book, The Widower's Wife, an American woman struggles to make a life after her undocumented parents are deported and her wealthy husband loses his job. I spent a good deal of time researching U.S. immigration and deportation policies to ground my fiction in fact. As a result, I am horrified by the complete inventions spewed by Donald Trump.
Anyone listening to the Republican frontrunner (God help you, conservatives) might believe that the U.S. is welcoming in "murderers" and "rapists" through lax border enforcement. But, Trump has a major problem with The Truth.
In reality, the number of total deportations in 2015 was about 30% higher than the total in 2008 when President Obama took office. The vast majority of the people sent back to their country of origin were not charged with a crime.
In 2010, when immigration officials were told to focus on "criminals," ICE began deporting a higher percentage of people with prior convictions. The numbers for ICE, as a result, show more than half of the deported have been "criminals" since 2011.
But, what crimes have these so-called dangerous criminals committed? Immigration attorneys find that, overwhelmingly, the charges are NON-VIOLENT infractions related to documentation. Driving without a legal license is one such offense.
In fact, of the 235,413 people arrested by ICE in 2015, just 1,040 were classified as "gang members." That's 0.4%. Gang members, according to many reports, is ICE short-hand for violent bad guy.
The only way Trump could pretend that he is not willfully misleading the electorate is if he maintained that deportation statistics do not accurately reflect the numbers of murderers and rapists because the U.S. government is ignoring the real criminals. Such an argument, however, defies common sense let alone any reasoned statistical analysis.
Regardless of anyone's personal political beliefs on immigration, it is important that we all have an understanding of the facts before we support policies. And the fact is that violent crime is a negligible problem with undocumented immigration. In fact, according to a July Wall Street Journal report, new immigrants are LESS likely to commit violent crimes than the general population.
Sources: Pew Research Center, Reuters, The Boston Globe (Deporting Illegal Immigrants Who Commit Crimes, Aug. 17 2015), www.ice.gov, Wall Street Journal: The Mythical Connection Between Immigrants and Crime. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-mythical-connection-between-immigrants-and-crime-1436916798