President Trump on Wednesday debuted a new rhyming slogan for the Republican Party. “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!” Trump tweeted, along with his belief that the GOP should use the line until the border wall is built.
Then he tweeted it again.
The line makes sense if you believe in Trump’s dystopian vision of the U.S., where malicious immigrants are constantly streaming across the border and Americans live in constant fear of being murdered in bed. But that’s not the real world.
As has been pointed out time and again, undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crime in the U.S. than native-born citizens. A 2015 study by the Cato Institute looked at criminal-conviction data in Texas and found that “as a percentage of their respective populations, there were 56 percent fewer criminal convictions of illegal immigrants than of native-born Americans in Texas in 2015.”
Trump’s obsession with villainizing immigrants has sparked a newfound interest in research on the subject. It only makes him look worse. Studies show that states with more immigration have less crime and that an influx in undocumented immigrants does not lead to an increase in DUIs and drug arrests.
When Trump talks about the wall stopping crime, he’s also suggesting that it will stem the flow of drugs into the U.S. That seems unlikely.
While it’s true that drugs — including heroin, meth, and cocaine — cross from Mexico into U.S. in large quantities, they’re rarely carried over the border in the middle of the desert. According to the DEA’s 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment, the most common way for drugs to enter the U.S. from Mexico is through legal ports of entry, where they’re carried “in passenger vehicles with concealed compartments or commingled with legitimate goods on tractor trailers.”
The report names other methods smugglers use, including underground tunnels, cargo trains, passenger buses, ultralight aircraft, and drones. It also mentions “clandestine land trails [used] to cross remote areas” of the border. A $25 billion border wall could eliminate that method of smuggling — one of eight mentioned by the DEA — but even that’s not guaranteed. What if the smugglers bring a saw?