GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump didn't hesitate to use a random act of violence in San Francisco to double down on his racism and demonize all Mexican immigrants. Instead of being able to make a nuanced point about anything, he demonstrated that his walnut-sized brain is incapable of nuance, yet very capable of worthless anecdotal evidence.
The tragic shooting that Trump exploited for his own political agenda took place at Pier 14, where 32-year-old Kate Steinle was gunned down by Francisco Sanchez. According the the Seattle Times, Sanchez, had been deported at least five times, and was released in April after a judge dismissed drug charges against him.
Authorities have already noted that the shooting was, in fact, a random act of violence. Trump responded to the story by taunting Marco Rubio's efforts in immigration reform. He also reiterated that the US needs to strengthen border security, as if he's proposing a unique idea that hasn't been proposed by every other politician in the country.
The reality is that Trump is using the actions of one person as a representation of all Mexican immigrants. It's no surprise that he's doing this to add some legitimacy to the racist comments he made during his candidacy announcement.
Both Univision and NBC severed ties with Trump after he said that "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems...they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
He conveniently omits that undocumented immigrants have risked death and rape to enter a foreign country for better opportunities for themselves and their families. Earlier this year, there were reports of Border Control agents who were charged with raping women trying to cross the border. Is it a coincidence that Trump didn't mention that inconvenient truth?
Ever since his controversial statements, Trump has been trying to prove that he's not racist, but fearlessly honest about the realities of illegal immigration. What's laughable is how he thinks anecdotal evidence is enough to prove his point. It reminds me of climate change deniers who mention a single day of heavy snowfall to "prove" that the environment isn't suffering from greenhouse gasses.
Imagine if a presidential candidate drew conclusions about all white people based on the actions of Dylann Roof? It would be egregious, and no one would take that person seriously. But CNN/ORC polling indicates that Republicans list Trump among their top contenders. What does that say about the right?
I'll concede that it is important to tackle illegal immigration in the U.S. But Trump's approach is comical and utterly simplistic.
Dealing with illegal immigration is a complicated and extremely nuanced issue, which is why politicians love to use tough guy language about it during their campaigns, yet fail to actually do anything about it if and when they're elected. Trump's plan is to "build a wall" and "strengthen border security," but he fails to mention that the Obama Administration spent an unprecedented amount of money on border security to appease Republicans. Obama also deported undocumented immigrants at a faster pace than George Bush.
It is estimated that between 2000 and 2010, U.S. taxpayers spent a whopping $90 billion on securing the U.S.-Mexico border. Around 20,000 U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents were deployed to the border in 2010 alone. Insanely expensive X-ray machines, each costing $1.75 million, were purchased to peek into cargo trains and trucks to ensure drugs weren't being smuggled into the country. High tech predator drones coupled with drug-sniffing dogs also cost tax payers a nice chunk of change.
As a result, CBP reports that in 2000 they caught 1.6 million undocumented immigrants trying to cross the border. In 2010, they captured 463,000 because fewer people were trying to enter the country due to terrible economic conditions in the U.S.
Democrats want to create a comprehensive immigration solution that not only deals with border security, but also finds a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 12 million people that are currently in the country illegally. That is also a very complicated issue, because it's factually inaccurate to claim that undocumented immigrants are negatively impacting the economy. Mass deportations would actually hurt the economy.
It's true that low-skilled American workers are seeing a dip in their wages because of undocumented immigrants. For instance, according to the New York Times, labor economists have concluded that undocumented workers have lowered the wages of U.S. adults without a high-school diploma by anywhere between 0.4 to 7.4 percent.
Illegal immigration has also had a positive economic impact in some cases. Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California, Davis, found something fascinating when comparing the labor markets in states with high immigration levels to those with low ones. He concluded that undocumented workers do not compete with skilled laborers, but they complement them.
When immigrants take care of the grunt work, that allows carpenters and electricians to focus on what they do best. In states with more undocumented immigrants, skilled workers made more money and worked more hours. Unsurprisingly, the economy’s productivity grew. From 1990 to 2007, undocumented workers increased legal workers’ pay in complementary jobs by up to 10 percent. In 2012, the Cato Institute estimated that a mass deportations policy would reduce economic growth by around $250 billion per year.
There's also a misconception that undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes. A 50-state analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that roughly 8.1 million of 11.4 million undocumented immigrants who work paid more than $11.8 billion in state and local taxes in 2012, even while they were living illegally in the country.
Remember, according to Trump, these are the unproductive rapists and criminals that we need to deport as soon as possible. He cites no evidence to back his defamatory statements, but he continues to do well in polling. Americans continue to blame their financial woes on the powerless, while neglecting the fact that the powerful are the very people who push for policies that cause irreparable harm to the country.