The trouble with Trump’s latest plan to give voice to xenophobic bigotry

Katelyn Fossett writes: Last Tuesday, as Donald Trump unveiled the name of a new government office dedicated to tracking and publishing crimes committed by immigrants, one could hear the literal gasps of Democrats assembled in the House of Representatives to hear the president’s first joint address to Congress.

“I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims,” Trump said. “The office is called VOICE—Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.”

He then went on to highlight the suffering of “four very brave Americans whose government failed them”—people whose loved ones had been killed by immigrants. It’s a technique Trump used throughout the 2016 campaign and at his convention, one his advisers believe was crucial to his ultimate victory in November.

Now that Trump is president, singling out immigrants as a uniquely criminal group is central to his plans to roll back decades of what he sees as a bipartisan failure to protect the United States from an invasion of illegal aliens. And VOICE is at the heart of those efforts.

The executive order Trump issued on Jan. 25, two days before his now-replaced travel ban, mandated that the Department of Homeland Security, which houses VOICE, begin publishing weekly statistics on crimes by immigrants: “To better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions, the Secretary shall utilize the Declined Detainer Outcome Report or its equivalent and, on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.” One clear goal is to aid Trump’s pledged crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities, which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Critics pounced. Some likened it to Nazi Germany propaganda that singled out crimes by Jews. But lost in the debate was a discussion of how the list would get made—and if it would even tell us anything useful.

Set aside the fact that studies show that immigrants tend to commit crimes at a lower rate than citizens, or that urban police forces worry their tip lines will dry up if immigrants are scared to come forward. The less obvious problem with Trump’s list is that it will focus largely on nonviolent offenders, painting an entire group as public safety threats for offenses that are more likely to be traffic violations than rape and murder. [Continue reading…]

Supporters of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies seem to think they can deflect accusations of racism by insisting that the individuals facing deportation or who have already been sent to Mexico are merely suffering the consequences of failing to comply with the law.

But if driving while under the influence of alcohol is sufficient justification to expel someone from the United States, millions of Americans should be sent into exile.

By their own admission, on average each year drivers admit that they have driven when having had too much to drink about 120 million times. But only 1 percent of these incidents result in arrest.

The xenophobes want to paint immigration as a law and order issue when in truth it is racism pure and simple.

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