An article published online in November in the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice finds, over the most recent four decades in the US, “little support for the enduring proposition that increases in immigration are associated with increases in crime.” Yet President Donald Trump’s administration is now preparing to deport millions of people who are in this country illegally and bring sweeping changes to the way the US handles immigration, all based on a campaign promise to reduce crime.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued two memos on Monday that seem to be preparing a “deportation force,” including the hiring of about 10,000 additional enforcement officers and the possible building of new prisons in the South.
The Obama administration deported millions of people as well—not quite this many, though—but Mr Trump has changed how people will be identified. While the previous president focused on threats to national security, such as those illegal aliens found guilty of a serious or violent crime, the new deportation force will be deporting people who have been “accused” of a crime—any crime, including providing a false Social Security number on an I-9 form so they can get a job, a job they love and at which they work hard in order to escape poverty or other oppression in their own homeland. In some ways, these workers love America more than I do.
While the fake SSN really just means these aliens will be paying into Social Security without any hope of getting any of that money back, other less severe crimes will count as well. A coworker could accuse someone of stealing money from a cash drawer and file a police report. Without any trial, this accusation could land that person in the hands of the police, which Mr Trump’s executive order has turned into a deportation force. If an immigration agent reasonably believes illegal aliens might one day face charges for what he reasonably believes they’ve done, they’re at risk of being quickly deported.
However unfair that may sound, that part was already in the law. We almost changed that law back under a different president, when meaningful immigration reform cleared the Senate and probably would have cleared the House if it had been allowed to come up for a vote. Mr Obama just didn’t enforce that part of it.
Although some people view this selective enforcement as unlawful, others view it as compassionate. Besides, each of us probably commits two or more crimes every day we drive to work in the morning, and some type of selective enforcement is required by common sense.
I too would make some allowances for the families of children who are US citizens or who have been in this country their entire lives and know no other home. On top of that, I would step up enforcement on the businesses that take advantage of illegal aliens for cheap labor. Doing so is neither humane for the workers nor fair for other businesses who compete for big contracts with fair-paid labor.
But here’s the thing, and there’s really no way to get around this: I am not the president, and neither is Mr Obama. This is Mr Trump’s call. For the record, he has said he will continue to protect illegal aliens who are here under the protection of Mr Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. How long that continuing deferral will last is, as most things are under the current administration, up in the air.
Also, I expect that as the parents of these childhood arrivals get deported or held while they’re awaiting a resolution of their cases, the foster care system in the US will spike a little. As fast food restaurants and California strawberry farmers, among others, have to hire more highly paid workers, prices for certain items may also increase, although the increase could be temporary.
- For further reading: Phillip Roth, The Plot Against America
History will judge Mr Trump on what happens here: the ramifications of this executive action are colossal. I personally believe the change is foolish and won’t reduce crime; it may even increase crime, as local police officers are turned into customs agents and illegal aliens fear them so much that they don’t report crime or talk to local police. But again, it’s not my call; it’s his.