Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made illegal immigrants the face of crime.
But what are the facts?
The American Immigration Council is a much better trumpeter of the facts than headline-seeking politicians. The Council informs us that:
“For more than a century, innumerable studies have confirmed two simple yet powerful truths about the relationship between immigration and crime: immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized, regardless of their country of origin or level of education. In other words, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not ‘criminals’ by any commonly accepted definition of the term. For this reason, harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime.”
NBC News has called Trump “the face of a resurgence in anti-immigrant vitriol.”
There is merit to this harsh charge.
Trump continuously reiterates his intention to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. He rallies his supporters by telling him that this will keep out “Mexican murderers and rapists.” It is an appeal to America’s dark side: racism and
Despite the fact that illegal immigration has nothing to do with higher crime rates (the FBI reports that the violent crime rate dropped 48 percent between 1990 and 2013, a period when the illegal immigrant population more than tripled) and illegal immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes than the native-born, fear and prejudice are the driving force behind movements in border states to impose harsher punishments on illegal immigrants and those who assist them than on native borns.
With anti-immigrant sentiment escalating, being an illegal immigrant or helping illegal immigrants is currently a very scary situation. The punishments for all types of immigration crimes have become less forgiving in recent years – shocking for a country whose Statue of Liberty welcomes immigrants.
For example, in Texas and Arizona – a state that seems to pride itself on its anti-immigration stance – immigrants and those facing immigration crimes have an uphill battle to fight.
Arizona Wants Illegal Immigrants to Do Max Time for Crimes
In 2010, Arizona passed Arizona Senate Bill 1070, one of the strictest anti-illegal immigrant bills our country has seen in a long time.
The bill made it a misdemeanor crime for illegal immigrants to be in Arizona without their required documentation. It also allowed police officers to question a person’s immigration status if there was “reasonable suspicion” that the person was an illegal alien, in addition to other provisions within the bill.
Many public officials, including President Barack Obama and Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security and former Arizona governor, have criticized the bill. They’ve called it “misguided” and said it would divert law enforcement resources from violent crimes.
Undeterred, lawmakers in Arizona, many of whom have embraced the Trump appeal to racism, continue to push harsh anti-immigrant legislation.
For example, some lawmakers supported legislation earlier this year that called for illegal immigrants to serve the maximum time for any and all crimes committed under Arizona Senate Bill 1377.
Senator Steve Smith, the bill’s sponsor, didn’t seem to mind that the bill would discriminate against a single group of people.
“People who are not citizens of this country are not afforded the same rights as our citizens,” he said in public defense of the legislation. “You can like that, or you can dislike that. I don’t care, that is the law.”
The Arizona senator’s attitude borrows a page from Alabama’s Bull Connor era.
Politicians like Smith charge that President Obama and the federal government are not doing their job when it comes to illegal immigrants; that they are making America a “sanctuary for illegal aliens.”
Once again racism does not respect the facts.
The Obama administration has deported more illegal immigrants than all the presidents of the 20th century combined—more than 200,000 by 2014.
Senator Smith’s legislation, known as Grant’s Law, was inspired by the murder of a convenience store clerk by an illegal immigrant out on bond at the time the crime was committed. The law would not allow judges to use discretion when sentencing illegal immigrants in Arizona. Instead, they would have to get the maximum amount of prison time. And then, once they have served 50 percent of their time, the illegal immigrant would be released to the federal government for deportation.
Fortunately, Smith’s legislation was defeated by the Arizona House by a close 32-28 vote on May 4, 2016.
Houston Men Could Face Decades in Prison for Immigration Crimes
This brings us to Texas: two Houston men – Rudy Alexander Martinez and Israel Arquimides Martinez – were convicted of all 18 charges against them after ICE arrested 16 undocumented immigrants in 2012 working at a Waste Management truck yard.
The two El Salvador natives were charged with harboring illegal aliens, aggravated identity theft, conspiring to employ and employing 10 or more illegal aliens, and inducing undocumented aliens to come to and stay in the United States.
Prosecutors charged the men told workers without proper documentation to come back with false identities and Social Security numbers in order to be employed.
Three other defendants pled guilty; two of whom testified against the Martinezes.
As we’ve previously discussed, harboring, employing, and inducing illegal aliens to come to the United States unlawfully is a federal crime, punishable by expensive fines and lengthy prison sentences.
Both men face up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine for conspiracy and inducing aliens, up to five years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine for employing illegal aliens, and a mandatory 24-month sentence for the identity theft charge. They will have to await their sentencing on July 29.
Due to the current hostile environment surrounding illegal immigrants and immigration crimes, it’s imperative to seek legal representation from an experienced federal criminal attorney who will be an advocate for your rights and your freedom.