It’s unclear what data Sessions is using here. He may be referring to 2006 Pew Research Center findings that about 250,000 to 350,000 people were added to the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States due to visa overstays. But visa overstays do not describe people who “succeed in crossing our borders illegally each year.”Recent data show the unauthorized immigrant population has leveled off, which does not support Sessions’s claim.
Without phony figures, there’s no need for a wall, of course. And Sessions, who opposes most legal immigration as well, personified the false theory (the “lump of labor fallacy“) that there are only so many jobs in America. “The fact is, we don’t have enough jobs for the people who are here,” he insists. “Doesn’t this help to explain why our wages have fallen and why we have the lowest percentage of Americans actually holding a job in 40 years?” No, actually it doesn’t. In fact, his own state would be helped by some legal immigration.
According to a Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) report, “Undocumented immigrants enrolling in the Pathway to Legal Status will have a positive effect on the State of Alabama and its citizens. For every person who enrolls, REMI estimates that more than $997 will be added to Gross State Product in 2014 and this will increase to more than $4,499 by 2020. REMI also estimates that by 2020 real personal income per capita in Alabama will increase by $120.” For high-skilled immigration, the picture is even rosier:
REMI estimates that an expansion of the H-1B visa program would add more than 220 new high-skilled workers in the state of Alabama in 2014. This expansion would result in more than 1,600 total new jobs in 2014 and more than 3,200 new jobs by 2020. In 2014, the expansion would add more than $140 million to Gross State Product and increase personal income by $77 million. By 2045, the expansion would add about $1.5 billion to Gross State Product and increase personal income by more than $1.4 billion.
Sessions doesn’t know what is good for his own state.
The presumption by grieving families that lax immigration security is responsible for their loved one’s deaths is, if not false, misguided. Tragically, many more law enforcement officers lose their lives due to actions of native-born Americans. Jason L. Riley wrote last year:
Numerous studies going back more than a century have shown that immigrants—regardless of nationality or legal status—are less likely than the native population to commit violent crimes or to be incarcerated. A new report from the Immigration Policy Center notes that while the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. more than tripled between 1990 and 2013 to more than 11.2 million, “FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48%—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41%, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.”A separate IPC paper from 2007 explains that this is not a function of well-behaved high-skilled immigrants from India and China offsetting misdeeds of Latin American newcomers. The data show that “for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants,” according to the report. “This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.”
Trump, of course, is not going to let facts get in the way. It is telling that his focus on the fake border issue — and Hispanic immigrants — ignores the much bigger problem of visa overstays, which affect immigrants from all over the world. It is hard to deny that targeting Hispanics, making up phony facts about them and labeling them “criminals” is anything but rank racism.
Interestingly, Hillary Clinton gave an interview to Charlie Rose on Monday night. She argued that Trump would be divisive. “Well, the way he has been in this campaign — he has set groups of Americans against one another,” she said. “The language he has used — to scapegoat, literally demean, denigrate groups of people starting with immigrants, going so far as to raise questions about the qualifications of a highly qualified federal judge born in the United States, whose parents were from Mexico.” She went on: “[Trump] has a really small vision of the American Dream. ‘The American Dream is only so big. And boy, you know, some people are now in it who weren’t there 50, 60, 70 years ago. So we wanna go back to the way it was.’ That’s nonsense. We can’t turn the clock back.”
It’s also true that Trump’s divisiveness has come to define him. It’s what is front and center at his convention. That it is built on lies and exaggerations only adds to the scary prospect of a president dismissive of reality, decency and comprehension of the American experience.