No, Mr. Trump, most migrants aren’t hardened criminals and don’t face 91 charges| Opinion

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s use of an isolated incident - the murder of a Georgia student by an undocumented Venezuelan suspect - to portray most unauthorized immigrants as violent criminals is not only misleading. It’s a display of racist demagoguery that incites hate crimes against Latinos.

An estimated 71 people are murdered daily in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control data. But despite the fact that most of these murders are committed by U.S.-born Americans, Trump is putting the spotlight almost exclusively on violent crimes committed by migrants.

In fact, blaming Latin American migrants for violent crimes has become, much like it was during his 2016 presidential bid, the centerpiece of Trump’s 2024 campaign.

While visiting the U.S.-Mexico border on Feb. 29, Trump falsely claimed that “the United States is being overrun by migrant crime.” He added, in a blatant generalization, that undocumented migrants are “coming from jails and they’re coming from prisons and they’re coming from mental institutions and they’re coming from insane asylums.”

Trump cited numbers of crimes committed by migrants, conveniently omitting to mention that U.S. violent crime rates in America’s biggest cities dropped by 12 percent last year and are significantly below their 2020 levels, according to studies based on FBI data.

Undocumented immigrants are half as likely to be arrested for violent crimes as U.S.-born citizens, according to a multi-year study of crime statistics published by the prestigious Proceedings magazine of the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, most undocumented migrants face far fewer criminal charges than Trump, who is fighting 91 felony charges.

In his speech at the border, Trump cherry-picked the recent murder of 22-year-old Georgia Augusta University College nursing student Laken Riley by a suspect who was identified as an undocumented Venezuelan migrant and made it look as if it were the most common occurrence.

Days earlier, referring to the Georgia murder, Trump had written in his social media platform that “the monster who took her life illegally entered our Country in 2022.”

It was the same kind of selective outrage with which Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign when he falsely claimed that Mexican undocumented immigrants “are bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

“This is all about inflaming voters and augmenting outrage, but we know that some people take it to the next level and actually commit murder because they feel the need to repel ‘an invasion’,” says Douglas G. Rivlin, a spokesman for the Americas Voice, a group that supports orderly migration.

Since Trump made his famous 2016 campaign claim about Mexican migrants, violent attacks against Latino immigrants have risen sharply, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.

The 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart shopping center in El Paso that left 23 people dead and more than two dozen wounded was the worst attack against Hispanics in America’s recent history. Echoing Trump’s rhetoric, the gunman had posted an online message shortly before the massacre saying that the shooting was “in response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Domestic terrorism, which happens to come mostly from right-wing extremists, is one of the biggest threats to national security, according to law enforcement agencies. Instead of fueling the flame of racism, Trump should be trying to put it out.

It is also ironic that Trump and his extremist followers don’t apply the same logic for immigration as they do for gun control.

Whenever there is a mass shooting and there are calls for stricter regulations on against automatic weapons, Trump and his followers say “we should not politicize the issue” while the victims’ relatives are grieving. But when an undocumented migrant commits a murder, they immediately politicize the issue and demand laws to crack down on migrants.

The reason why Trump and right-wing media are pushing the “migrant crime” story is very simple: fear-mongering draws big audiences and many votes.

The Trump campaign is now focusing on the “migrant crime” issue because it has run out of most other arguments to run on.

The U.S. economy is doing much better than expected, the U.S. stock market is hitting record heights, U.S. unemployment is at near record lows, and the United States is the world leader in artificial intelligence and other key brand-new technologies.

Xenophobia and racism are and have always been, the last refuge of demagogues.

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