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IMMIGRATION: Trump fans flames of fear

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Then-candidate Trump during a Presidential Debate in 2016 where he remarked, "We have some bad hombres here and we're going to get them out."
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NORMAN, Okla.- As much as Trump would like to believe otherwise, the “bad hombres” exist only in his mind.  Fear of an invasion of buck-wild immigrants from south of the border fueled his campaign in large part, and, despite all evidence to the contrary, hurtled him into office. 

Trump has strived mightily to make good on his anti-immigrant rhetoric, deploying ICE agents en masse to partake in a massive human roundup.  I’m always amazed at how the jack-booted law and order rhetoric can have such mass appeal, enough to win the Presidency. 

I’ve noticed that it rings similar to Duterte’s rhetoric in the Philippines.  He’s busy slaughtering his own citizens, having racked up a death toll of 13,000, but has an 82% percent approval rating because he’s a master of the ‘law and order’ school of demagoguery (Incidentally, Trump has praised Duterte’s prohibition-fueled bloodbath). 

Trump is a similar master of this, and it appeals to something primitive and tribal in the brain; ‘Us versus Them’ and all that.  Which is probably why supporters of the Trumps and Dutertes of the world are invulnerable to facts.  A person so emotionally invested in a certain viewpoint will have a mind out of reach of facts or reality.  So let’s look at the facts about U.S. immigration.

Immigrants, both legal and illegal, become far more well-behaved citizens than native born Americans.  They are far less likely to commit crime, especially violent crime, than native-born Americans.  Every location in the United States that experienced a higher than average influx of immigrants experienced a decrease in homicide.  There’s so much research on this fact that there’s even research on the scholarly consensus on this fact.  It’s a non-controversial fact of life among those who are open to facts.  Now more facts.

Native-born Americans were five times more likely than immigrants to be incarcerated, by the year 2000. 

The majority of illegal immigrants in federal prisons, or 74 percent, are there due to immigration “crime” such as re-entering the country, rather than real crime such as theft, rape, murder, etc.

An interesting fact from a study that focused on 3,000 residents of Chicago found that an individual’s penchant for violent crime grew with each generation’s movement away from the first-generation American citizen.  A third-generation citizen was twice as likely to become violent as their first-generation grandparent.

Another study found that native-born American citizens are better off having immigrants as neighbors.  Young people are less at risk of becoming life-long criminals if they live in neighborhoods with immigrants.

So the 11 million immigrants that many enjoy demonizing are in fact making our country safer.  But they are enriching our lives here in many more ways as well. 

Far from being the do-nothing welfare recipients they are depicted as, undocumented immigrants contribute $11 billion in taxes to the U.S. economy each year.  More, please. 

What we have to fear is not immigration, but the politicized fear of immigration.  This fear has fueled a militarization of the U.S. Border, transforming it into what the ACLU has dubbed a “Constitution-Free Zone” that also extends 100 miles inland, where two-thirds of the U.S. population happens to live.  In this wide strip of America, your rights are fuzzy to non-existent, depending on the temper of the Border Patrol agent you happen to be dealing with.  An assertion of your rights can get you dragged out of your car and your rectum searched.  There are plenty of examples of this happening all the time, to U.S. citizens.

In a country where a citizen is 55 times more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist, it’s clear we do not have our priorities in order.  The thing we’re told to fear is so those who’ve told us can then consolidate power upon that fear.  Terrorism is non-existent in the U.S. but just marvel at the National Security bureaucracy that’s been built upon the fear of terrorism.

We’re told to fear immigrants despite the evidence to the contrary.  It gets wrapped up in low-IQ applause lines that invoke American “nationalism” and people cheer it on and propel the most eloquent exponents to power.

The debate over immigration, over the lives of people who in spirit and in fact, just not in law, are American citizens, should recognize that these people deserve more than to constantly live with the fear that they’ll be treated like cattle as they are removed from their families and the country they are contributing far more to than the current inhabitant of the White House.

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Shane Smith

Shane Smith is an accountant and freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in economics from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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