In his most anticipated immigration policy speech since he delivered his campaign speech last June, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump painted a relentlessly bleak view of undocumented immigrants, claiming they are responsible for tens of thousands of homicides and are leeches on the U.S. economy.
During his speech, which at one time was thought to represent a “pivot” to a softer approach, called for the mass deportation of the country’s undocumented population, which would also likely force their U.S. citizen children to leave the country with them. Trump also spent considerable time depicting undocumented immigrants as violent criminals.
According to Trump’s statistics, undocumented immigrants committed 25,000 homicides and cost the country $113 billion. The problem is that those statistics are false and misleading. Here are the facts:
- Undocumented immigrants were arrested for 25,000 homicides.
As ThinkProgress previously reported, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that 25,000 foreign nationals — or immigrants — were arrested for homicides, but for over a 55-year period between August 1955 and April 2010. In comparison, there were 11,200 arrests for homicides in 2010 alone among the general American population, according to the U.S. Department of Justice statistics.
A 2007 study found that immigrants have lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans, according to the immigration organization American Immigration Council. Another similar 2013 study found that first-generation immigrants commit crime at a lower rate than second-generation immigrants and native-born, non-Hispanic whites.
Still, Trump’s claim has been peddled by other anti-immigrant politicians such as Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Pete Sessions (R-TX) in the past.
2. Immigrants cost the economy $113 billion.
According to Trump, undocumented immigrants are a billion-dollar burden on the economy, costing $113 billion in local, state, and federal taxes. The same statistic can be found at the Federation for American Immigration Reform website, an anti-immigrant organization founded by white nationalist John Tanton.
In reality, undocumented immigrants are a net positive to the economy, contributing $11.64 billion into local and state taxes, according to a 2016 Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy report. What’s more, undocumented immigrants also contributed $35.1 billion to the Medicare Trust Fund between 2000 and 2011, according to a 2015 Journal of General Internal Medicine study. Even Alex Nowrasteh, the immigration policy expert at the Libertarian think tank CATO Institute, called Trump’s claim “nonsense.”
Trump's $113 billion cost of unlawful immigration is nonsense, as I wrote here: https://t.co/T36YzGfey8
— (((Alex Nowrasteh))) (@AlexNowrasteh) September 1, 2016