Attacking immigrants is a hallmark of Donald Trump's speeches.
Near the end of his Tuesday State of the Union address, Donald Trump spent nearly 10 minutes attacking immigrants with lies and false insinuations. Trump, who kicked off his 2016 campaign by calling Mexicans "criminals and rapists," has regularly attacked immigrants in his speeches and policies.
In his address, Trump made sure to perpetuate a false stereotype of violent immigrants, lied about sanctuary cities, spread misinformation about asylum-seekers, and falsely declared his administration would welcome immigrants.
Myth of violent immigrants
Immigrants — both documented and undocumented — commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans, according to research from the right-leaning CATO Institute. Yet Trump did not let the facts get in the way of fear-mongering as he rattled off a list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants on Tuesday.
According to Trump, immigration officials "arrested more than 120,000 criminal aliens charged with nearly 10,000 burglaries, 5,000 sexual assaults, 45,000 violent assaults, and 2,000 murders."
Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric is a lie by omission, ignoring the fact that conviction rates of undocumented immigrants "for homicide, larceny, and sex crimes are also below those of native-born Americans," according to CATO. The organization also reported that "criminal conviction rates for legal immigrants are the lowest of all."
Even Mark Krikorian, the executive director the Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigrant hate group, admitted recently that a "data does suggest immigrants are less likely to be involved in crime."
Sanctuary cities across America have less crime, including crimes like murder, than non-sanctuary cities.
Yet Trump, once again ignoring the data, spent time on Tuesday painting a picture of sanctuary cities as hotbeds of crime.
Trump complained about "radical politicians have chosen to provide sanctuary for these criminal illegal aliens," falsely claiming local officials "order police to release dangerous criminals to prey upon the public" instead of turning them over to federal authorities.
In reality, sanctuary cities make communities safer. Drawing from FBI research, the typical sanctuary county containing a large city had a 15% lower crime rate than counties without sanctuary cities, according to the Washington Post.
If local law enforcement agencies are made to enforce federal immigration laws, it would result in "increased crime against immigrants and in the broader community," as well as "eliminate the potential for assistance from immigrants in solving crimes or preventing future terroristic acts," according to a statement from the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a group of police chiefs representing large American cities.
"Catch and Release"
The Associated Press called out Trump's lies about ending the so-called "catch and release" program, noting there is a backlog of 1 million immigration court cases, meaning some migrants must wait three years before a court hearing.
On Tuesday, Trump falsely claimed, "Before I came into office, if you showed up illegally on our southern border and were arrested, you were simply released and allowed into our country, never to be seen again. My administration has ended catch-and-release. If you come illegally, you will now be promptly removed."
Trump often lumps together immigrants who cross the southern border without documents and those who are seeking asylum. For those seeking asylum, the Obama administration had a program to provide legal assistance and help asylum-seekers make their court dates. The program had a 99% success rate.
Trump canceled the program in 2017, amid his administration's crackdown on immigrants, which included separating families and housing young children in cages.
Just days after adding several more countries to his administration's Muslim travel ban, Trump declared on Tuesday that he proposes a new immigration system that is "welcoming those who follow the rules, contribute to our economy, support themselves financially, and uphold our values."
Nearly three years ago, Trump announced a ban on several Muslim-majority countries. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the expansion will ban "nearly a quarter of the 1.2 billion people on the African continent."
In the past, Trump has referred to African nations as "shithole countries" saying he would rather accept immigrants from Norway, a mostly white European nation.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.