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Illegal Immigration in the US: A Tall Tale from Donald Trump

America’s president cannot be credited with much. However, he may go down in history as the nation’s greatest story teller.

Donald Trump won his presidency through fear mongering and enforcing stereotypes that, pardon the pun, build walls between groups of people. His biggest platform by far was immigration from Mexico, promising to build a $25 billion wall on the border between the nations to stop “bad hombres” from entering illegally. These policies, combined with incessant xenophobic comments about the Mexican people (e.i. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” or “The Mexican legal system is corrupt, as is much of Mexico.”) have strengthened toxic values in American citizens, while simultaneously being wildly incorrect. Donald Trump has singlehandedly revived and reinforced fables about Mexican citizens, and Americans of Mexican heritage.

Lie #1: Mexican immigrants are criminals. Trump introduced this falsity immediately to his audience, during his speech to announce his candidacy he said, “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 us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” This has been proven to be wrong time and time again. Immigrants, regardless of legality, race, and country of origin, are less likely to commit crimes compared to natives. In fact, during times when the U.S. is accepting a larger influx of immigrants, crime rates actually drop. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that when the immigration rate was raised by 49% between 1990 and 2010, violent crimes dropped by 45%, and property crimes dropped by 42%.  Additionally, dozens of studies have found that cities with high immigration levels have the lowest crime rates.

Lie #2: The U.S. is overflowing with immigrants and all of them are illegal.  Simply put, the number of immigrants entering the U.S. has not changed much, and almost all of those immigrants are legal. In the 1930s, immigrants were about 15% of the population. Today, they make up 13%.  Of the immigrants living in the U.S., 60% have been here for over 15 years, pay taxes and have become legal citizens. So, no Donald, not all immigrants are illegal. Additionally, the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. is going down. People who immigrated illegally to America only make up 3.5% of the population, and from 2013 to 2014, the number of illegal immigrants went down by about one million.

Lie #3: Immigrants hurt their host nations financially. Immigrants do not “steal” jobs. In fact, they help create jobs, as they are twice as likely to start their own business than native citizens. Businesses born from immigrants are more likely to hire a large number of employees than those born from natives, and states with high numbers of immigrants report lower unemployment. Thus, rather than taking jobs away from native citizens, immigrants help create opportunities for their employment. Additionally, it is a common belief that immigrants do not pay taxes. However, this is also untrue. More than 50% of undocumented immigrants pay income tax using individual Tax ID numbers, and immigrants payed more than $140 billion dollars of taxes last year alone.  Everyone in the U.S. pays taxes on sales, goods and on properties that they buy or rent.

Donald Trump is a crude author, a master of lies and xenophobia. His policies and rhetoric has put immigrants under the spotlight, and many are caught between defending themselves and reinforcing the stereotype that brings them discrimination. Our nation boasts being “the land of the free and home of the brave” but blaming our shortcomings on immigrants is cowardly and sad. Trump, and his followers, continually boost a tall tale in which immigrants are the villains. However, the “evidence” they use to defend their racism and xenophobia is flimsy and almost always untrue.

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