The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Focus On Facts, Not Feelings: The Current Immigration ‘Crisis’ in America

In Congress, Democrats and Republicans are not debating a solution to illegal immigration — they’re debating whether or not it is a “crisis.” It’s no surprise that Democrats and Republicans can’t decide on a solution for immigration reform. However, the difficulties with passing immigration reform are beyond partisanship gridlock.

Partisanship on the issue of immigration is nothing new in Congress. Just three months ago, a bipartisan immigration bill was blown up in the Senate after former president Donald Trump urged his Republican loyalists to vote against it. Beyond Trump’s opposition, the bill didn’t achieve its goal of appeasing both sides of the issue. The bill extended legal protection to undocumented immigrants, but did not attempt to control the flow of immigrants into the country, according to the Brookings Institute. It’s clear where Republicans stand on this issue: reinstate Trump-era policies that essentially shut down the border.

After a recent hearing at the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, the debate on immigration seems more nuanced. 

The Committee on Oversight and Accountability and the Subcommittee on National Security and the Border and Foreign Affairs held a two-hour hearing about the current immigration crisis in America. Based on previous debates on the issue, it was no surprise that the majority and minority members didn’t agree on what reforms were needed at the border. Democrats were staunchly opposed to the protectionist border policies that Republicans offered. Beyond the debate on reform, it seems that Republicans and Democrats can’t even agree on the facts.

The Republican majority and their witnesses are adamant that the influx of undocumented immigration is increasing crime rates, including a rise in rape, robbery and homicide. The majority’s witness, Sheriff Bill Waybourn from Texas, testified that his state is seeing unprecedented crime rates driven by undocumented immigration. Glenn Grothmen, the committee chairman, attributed this uptick in illegal crossing to Biden’s “open border policies.” Furthermore, he recommended policies that prioritize removing undocumented immigrants and returning them to their home countries.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats brought facts to the table in opposition to these claims. The minority’s witness, David J. Bier, has gained considerable knowledge on the subject as the director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute. He provided a refreshing take on immigration that starkly contrasted the nativist rhetoric that the majority was spewing, considering a more positive approach: immigration can actually enrich the country.

Where Republicans claim that immigrants drive up crime rates, Bier finds that there is an association between a rise in immigration and lower crime rates. His testimony outlines many different factors that contribute to this phenomenon. One of those factors is that immigrants “commit fewer crimes per capita than the U.S.-born population, which mechanically lowers the crime rate.” Even in Texas, where Sheriff Waybourn claims crime is out of control, undocumented immigrants are 15 percent less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.

In addition to being less likely to commit crimes, there is evidence to suggest that immigrants can directly stop crimes by cooperating with law enforcement. Bier testifies in his report that “about 100,000 unauthorized immigrants have obtained legal status through their cooperation with law enforcement over the last decade, and local agencies have about 355,000 requests pending for unauthorized immigrants to receive legal status based on their cooperation with them right now.”

These statistics are only a fraction of the positive impacts that immigration has on the United States. So, why are Republicans so adamant that this is a “crisis” that needs immediate attention?

In short, it seems the current debate can be attributed to election year drama. It’s no secret that immigration was a winning issue for Trump in 2016. Spreading false information about crime rates without any basis could make Trump look more competent than Biden.

Whether or not immigration will be a winning issue for Trump in the 2024 election cycle, legislation must be passed based on data and facts — not feelings.

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