When Donald Trump reported he was running for president in 2015, he launched into a disgusting rant about undocumented immigrants from Mexico, accusing them of the most heinous behaviors. “They aren’t our friend, believe me,” he said. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Trump’s speech was a very powerful and disturbing example of the undying myth that immigrants carry out more crime than native-born Americans. This conviction enables people to rationalize their racist attitudes and gives them a reason to scapegoat immigrant communities for a variety of social ills.
Study after study shows that the idea that immigrants, even the undocumented, commit more crimes than the native-born population is just that: a myth. The University of California at Davis recently released a far-reaching study that explains why deporting undocumented immigrants has no real effect on crime rates.
The study focused on a program called Secure Communities, which was founded during the George W. Bush administration and eventually canceled under Barack Obama in 2014. It was re-instituted in 2017 when Donald Trump took office. The program increased data-sharing between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local police departments with the ultimate goal of increasing deportations.
The study looked into over a thousand communities that enacted the program, comparing the level of crime before and after its inception. The study found that there was no corresponding drop in crime, even in the cities that deported most people. These numbers held true for both violent and property crime.
“A giant majority of individuals WHO are deported through Secure Communities don’t have convictions for serious crimes,” Randy Capp, director of research for U.S. programs at the Migration Policy Institute, told Mic. Capp says the most common crimes committed by undocumented people are drunk driving and small-scale drug possession and that “deportations of people who actually have been convicted of much more serious crimes are a very tiny share of the full.” thus, the program “doesn’t have that nice an effect on overall crime.”