by Kelle Keyles
Photo Courtesy of Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images
A section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Tijuana, Mexico.
On Feb. 28, Donald Trump announced a new office in the Department of Homeland Security, the Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement (VOICE). Trump was quoted saying he is implementing VOICE “to create an office to serve American victims,” although he characteristically did not go into more detail about what this means.
The fact that Trump specified “American Victims” implies that victims of these “crimes” on American soil who may be immigrants themselves, visiting on vacation, or foreign-born visa holders do not apply to the specific category of victims this new office will recognize or provide aide for.
After Trump used a few family members of people killed by undocumented immigrants as examples of why we need a specific office to deal with victims of immigrant crime, he promised the families that they would have justice and their loved ones would be remembered.
Statistics, however, indicate otherwise. Studies show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, both violent and non-violent, than American-born persons. The American Immigration Council cites a report that used data from a 2010 American Community Survey that concluded “roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born.”
This means twice as many native-born American men are incarcerated than immigrants, and this disparity has maintained for decades. Since 1980, the incarceration rate of American-born persons has been two to five times higher than the incarceration rate of immigrants.
Additionally, the American Immigration Council cites that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. grew from 3.5 million to 11.2 million from 1990 to 2013, and the overall immigrant population went from 7.9 percent of the population to 13.1 percent. As the amount of immigrants in the U.S. increased, the violent crime rates decreased by almost half and non-violent crime rates fell 41percent.
Listening to Trump’s inflammatory, bigoted, hogwash-based anti-immigrant propaganda, one would expect the rates to show a drastic increase in crime— especially by undocumented immigrants.
During one of Trump’s campaign speeches, he infamously said of Mexican immigrants, “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some I assume are good people.”
Trump did not offer any statistics or facts to support his claims—possibly because the facts prove the opposite about Mexican immigrants.
Data analyzed by the American Immigration Council found that “in 2010, less-educated native-born men age 18-39 had an incarceration rate of 10.7 percent—more than triple the 2.8 percent rate among foreign-born Mexican men.” The data illuminates the way Trump encourages fear and hatred towards immigrants—especially those who are undocumented.
All groups of people commit crimes. This new office in the Department of Homeland Security is just the next step in Trump’s agenda to continue to turn the public against immigrants and create an irrational fear amongst American people.
Trump did not announce an office for victims of white men’s crime engagement, victims of rich men’s crime engagement; victims of the Trumps’ crime engagement. Any of these offices could have logically come before the VOICE office.
This country would benefit more if Trump created an office in the Department of Homeland Security to help victims of violent crimes in general, not just victims by a certain minority group. This is clearly geared towards publicizing crimes committed by immigrants, rather than helping actual victims or fighting major crime problems in the U.S., like those of mass shootings or hate crimes. Victims of Dylan Roof and Adam Lanza will not receive this kind of officiated recognition.
When asked if Trump would condemn David Duke or other white supremacists, he claimed not to know anything about them, stating, “well I have to look at the group…you wouldn’t want me to condemn a group I know nothing about.” Yet it seems this belief does not apply to immigrants.