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Debunking Republican Claims Linking Immigration to Crime

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Immigration has been a common theme throughout the first two nights of the Republican National Convention. On Monday, speakers included two mothers whose sons were killed by undocumented immigrants. But a new report by the American Immigration Council, that won’t likely be cited by any speakers at this year’s Republican National Convention, finds immigrants are less likely than the native-born to engage in criminal behavior and that higher immigration is associated with lower crime rates. We speak with its co-author, Walter Ewing, a senior researcher at the American Immigration Council. His recent article is “Republican Party Platform Shows Little Understanding of Immigration Policy.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re “Breaking with Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency.” I’m Amy Goodman. We’re here in Cleveland, Ohio, covering the Republican National Convention inside and out, from the streets to the convention floor. The Republican Party has officially adopted Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in its official party platform. The new platform states, quote, “The border wall must cover the entirety of the southern border and must be sufficient to stop [both] vehicular and pedestrian traffic.” Immigration has been a common theme throughout the first two nights of the Republican National Convention. On Monday, speakers included mothers whose sons were killed by undocumented immigrants. In a moment, we’ll hear Sabine Durden, but first, Mary Ann Mendoza.

MARY ANN MENDOZA: My son’s life was stolen at the hands of an illegal alien. It’s time that we have an administration that cares more about Americans than about illegals. A vote for Hillary is putting all of our children’s lives at risks. It’s time for Donald Trump. Thank you.

SABINE DURDEN: Sadly, I have a similar story to share with you. My best friend, my rock, my son Dominic, my only child, was also killed by an illegal immigrant. I call them illegal aliens. … I have been talking about illegal immigration since 2012, since he got killed, and no one listened—until Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not only my hero, he’s my lifesaver. Hillary Clinton, or as we know her, “crooked Hillary,” always talks about what she will do for illegal aliens and what she will do for refugees. Well, Donald Trump talks about what he will do for America.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Sabine Durden speaking at the Republican National Convention Monday night. We turn now to look at a report by the American Immigration Council that won’t likely be cited by any speakers at this year’s Republican National Convention. The report found immigrants are less likely than the native-born to engage in criminal behavior and that higher immigration is associated with lower crime rates. Joining us now is one of the co-authors of the report, Walter Ewing, senior researcher at the American Immigration Council. His most recent piece is headlined “Republican Party Platform Shows Little Understanding of Immigration Policy.”

Respond to what we just heard, Walter. Talk about what the figures really are in this country.

WALTER EWING: Well, at the Republican convention, they’re exploiting personal tragedy for political gain, because, for decades, study after study has established just what you noted, that higher immigration is associated with lower crime rates. As an example, from 1990 to 2013, the share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent. At the same time, the undocumented population more than tripled, from 3.5 million to 11.2 million. But what happened to crime rates? They went down. FBI data indicate that violent crime dropped by 48 percent, and rates of property crime fell by 41 percent. That runs counter to the narrative being spun at the Republican National Convention.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what the Republican platform is in regards to immigration?

WALTER EWING: Basically, it’s a platform of scapegoating immigrants for many of the nation’s social and economic problems. For instance, the wall is a powerful symbol, but it’s a symbol that won’t work. Despite having hundreds of miles of fencing along the border right now, we find that undocumented immigration has not stopped, that smuggling organizations have grown stronger, and that as long as there’s a demand that is not being met by formal channels of immigration, it’s being met by criminal organizations. That is not in anyone’s benefit. And it’s also noteworthy that you can build a wall as high as you want, but someone can always build a higher ladder, or go under it or go through it, as has happened already. So, it’s not getting to the root of the problem. The root of the problem is an immigration system that is irrational, that is out of sync with reality. The problem is not immigrants themselves.

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“Wall Off Trump”: Activists Erect Mock Wall Outside RNC to Protest GOP Border & Immigration Policy

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