On Wednesday, the morning after his administration announced its plan to send the National Guard to patrol the United States’ southern border, President Trump tweeted "strong action today” on immigration:
Our Border Laws are very weak while those of Mexico & Canada are very strong. Congress must change these Obama era, and other, laws NOW! The Democrats stand in our way - they want people to pour into our country unchecked....CRIME! We will be taking strong action today.
His argument against immigration (i.e., “CRIME!”) is as nuanced as it is factual — which is to say, not at all.
The Marshall Project, in conjunction with the New York Times Upshot, analyzed the data from a 2016 study of the relationship between crime rates and immigration in 200 U.S. cities and found that “a large majority of the areas have many more immigrants today than they did in 1980 and fewer violent crimes.”
“In 136 metro areas, almost 70 percent of those studied, the immigrant population increased between 1980 and 2016 while crime stayed stable or fell,” the Marshall Project write-up said. “The number of areas where crime and immigration both increased was much lower — 54 areas, slightly more than a quarter of the total. The 10 places with the largest increases in immigrants all had lower levels of crime in 2016 than in 1980.”
Trump engaged in a public war of words last month with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf after she warned her constituents of impending ICE raids. He called Schaaf a “disgrace” and claimed “85 percent” of the “close to 1,000 people ready to be gotten” were criminals. Data from the study, however, show Oakland was among the cities in which immigration has increased, and crime decreased, since 1980.