President Donald Trump’s raft of executive orders on immigration are, in one sense, mere pledges of things he intends to do, an extension of his campaign pledges now given the force, if not of law, at least of executive-branch intent. In another sense, however, they are the most sinister executive orders in modern history, containing the seeds a would-be authoritarian would want to plant in his political garden.
The United States of America does not face an immigration crisis. Between 2009 and 2014 there was a net decline in the number of migrants coming from Mexico into the U.S. of 140,000 people, according to a Pew study published November 2015.
There is no drastic epidemic of violent crime perpetrated by undocumented immigrants: As Alan Gomez at USA Today explained, Trump and his anti-immigrant allies cite skewed data to make their case. They rightly assert that a disproportionate number of those in federal prisons for violent crimes are undocumented immigrants. But, there is a reason for that. “Only a tiny percentage of the nation’s violent crimes are handled by the federal court system,” Gomez noted. “Yes, undocumented immigrants accounted for 9.2% of federal murder convictions in 2013, but that represents a grand total of eight murder cases. When you consider that the FBI estimates there were 14,196 murders in the U.S. in 2013, those few cases handled by the federal court system don’t quite register as a reliable sample set.”