“The moral case against President Trump’s plan to uproot and expel millions of unauthorized immigrants is open-and-shut. But what about the economic cost? This is where deeply shameful collides with truly stupid.”
Just how stupid?
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich debated former Arizona sheriff Paul Babeu on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, during which Babeu cited anecdotal stories about how illegal immigrants were responsible for thousands of crimes in the United States and how Trump’s immigration plan would restore law and order.
Reich, a Harvard professor who has served under three U.S. presidents, responded that Trump’s initiative was based on two lies: that crime is on the rise and that illegal immigration is also on the rise.
In fact, both are on the decline.
According to Arizona’s own state data, crime along the southwest border with Mexico has dropped in the last few years.
Reich suggested that Babeu take a look at some data, as in provable facts, in the form of studies, which conclude immigrants are less likely than native U.S. citizens to commit violent crimes.
But there are other issues, cited by InSight Crime, that could also undermine efforts to control crime on both sides of the border if Trump’s ill-conceived plans go into effect.
Loss of Intelligence
As much as we rely on the benefits of technology—cameras, drones, forensic evidence—to help solve crimes, there is nothing like human witnesses and sources. Enlisting local police in the immigration crackdown, as Trump has proposed, will distance law enforcement and prosecutors from these potential witnesses and sources, which could affect police work in areas where immigrants live.
Increased Demand for Criminal Services, Especially Drug Cartels
The more complicated the border crossing, the more migrants rely on professional smugglers, known as coyotes, who have close connections with Mexican drug cartels. As Trump sets the stage for mass deportations, coyotes will be doing bigger business than ever. Mexican drug cartels control an extensive network of human traffickers and informants who extort, kidnap and kill migrants at will, according to an Al Jazeera report.
Trump supporters also cite the availability of heroin and fentanyl as reasons to support his policies. Although a good deal of heroin is produced in Mexico and fentanyl is made in China and shipped through Mexico, unfortunately a border wall will do little to stop that traffic.
More Targets for Corruption
The Trump administration has indicated it intends to hire at least 5,000 new agents for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. Experts say the rush to bring in so many people at once could compromise the existing security protocols and that corrupt agents are slipping through the already weak vetting process.
James Tomsheck, former head of internal affairs for the CBP, told National Public Radio about massive corruption among CBP agents. In 2008, more than half of the job applicants failed polygraph tests.
“They included serious felony crimes, active involvement in smuggling activities and several confirmed infiltrators who actually were employed by drug trafficking organizations who had been directed to seek out positions within Customs and Border Protection to advance ongoing criminal conspiracies—essentially be spies in our midst,” Tomsheck said.
Since October 2004, 197 CBP employees, including border patrol agents, have been arrested, charged with or convicted of corruption, Tomsheck told the Guardian.
Migrants in the U.S. send billions of dollars back to their countries in remittances, which help sustain those economies. According to the Wall Street Journal, remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean reached $68.3 billion in 2015. Even a partial loss of this money could lead to economic hardship, instability and poverty, which could ultimately result in more migration.
Less International Cooperation
Trump’s nationalistic U.S.-first attitude has become increasingly and embarrassingly clear. Many of his xenophobic and often blatantly racist supporters seem oblivious to the political costs of this short-sighted position.
Meanwhile, Trump’s propensity to insult, discriminate against and demean huge swaths of the world’s citizens and their leaders—including here in the U.S.—is ongoing.