CRIME RATES & IMMIGRANTS
One of the biggest and baddest claims the new administration has repeated is that immigrants - particularly "illegal immigrants" - increase crime rates and are dangerous to keep in our country.
However, empirical studies prove that claim wrong.
In a special report for the American Immigration Council, Ewing et al. find that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. The Marshall Project discusses why immigrants actually bring down the crime rate, apart from the fact that they commit less crime. For example, immigrants often move into "hart-hit" areas and increase the labor market opportunities of native-born workers. They create and strengthen social institutions in their neighborhoods, which helps stabilize communities.
Despite this, politicians, namely No. 45, have criminalized immigrants in their rhetoric, calling them a threat to public safety. The current administration has issued orders that explicitly depart from previous prioritization of deporting only undocumented violent offenders. Instead, 45 wants to expel all undocumented immigrants and intimate otherwise legal immigrants on a grand scale.
POLICY CHANGE: SEPARATING MOTHERS & THEIR CHILDREN
Now, 45's administration has proposed separating women and children illegally crossing the U.S. border together. Officials say part of the reasoning behind this proposal is to deter mothers from migrating to the U.S. with their children.
Clearly, this policy proposal was developed by someone who has never had to make a hard, life-altering choice for their children, despite their personal consequences. There are currently undocumented immigrants who are separated by thousands of miles from their families to ensure the health and safety of their child/ren, which is secured by migrating to America. Not to mention, this policy will increase the cost to the American taxpayer because the detained and separated children will, in many cases, have to go to a state-sponsored guardian.
Immigrant rights advocates argue that Central America's rampant violence and poverty force mothers to immigrate to the U.S. seeking a better life for their children. Thus, they should receive asylum status. Not to mention, this policy proposal could result in lifelong psychological trauma for the children. It seems unlikely that this policy change will be the most effective deterrent, but will cause irreparable harm.
The proposal is currently being considered by the Dept. of Homeland Security.
All of this poses a vital question: Is detention of people crossing the border illegally constitutional? We we know, the U.S. Constitution protects people, not just citizens. Thus, immigrants must be afforded due process. This rarely happens, though. Many are detained without being arrested, and without a hearing or official charge. According to the ACLU, 45's plan for 'expedited removal' "fails to afford a meaningful opportunity to defend oneself, and... it would be unconstitutional as applied to those living among us whoa re entitled to full due process protection." After all, due process of law typically refers to the right to a hearing.
The Supreme Court currently has two pending cases related to the constitutional rights of noncitizens: Jennings v. Rodriguez (do immigrants held for deportation have a right to a bail hearing?) and Hernandez v. Mesa (is there standing for parents to sue on behalf of their Mexican son shot by a U.S. agent on border land?). Keep an eye out for those cases in the coming months.
- Request a free Deportation Defense Card here, and know your rights!
- Call the Dept. of Homeland Security and express your opposition to this proposal: Comment Line | (202)282-8495
- Contact the ICE Office of Public Affairs | firstname.lastname@example.org; (202)732-4242
- This exclusive Reuters article breaks the news on the proposal.
- If you have 25 minutes, listen to this podcast episode by Criminal, one of your favorite podcasts here at Couch Activism. This week, Phoebe Judge interviews a child immigrant who crossed the border alone to meet his mother in the States, and was arrested years later and detained for 6 months without bond.
- Check out how 45's agenda has been a radical departure in terms of immigration on the Marshall Project.
- See the graphic below from Reuters on how the current asylum system is structured: