They’re not especially crime-prone, but that doesn’t mean the problem is make-believe.
An 18-year-old native of El Salvador was charged last weekend with breaking into a Brooklyn, N.Y., home and raping an 11-year-old girl. When police apprehended the suspect, a reputed MS-13 gang member, he was carrying a forged green card. Two weeks ago authorities in Iowa charged a Mexican farmhand, also believed to be in the country illegally, with first-degree murder in the death of college student Mollie Tibbetts.
Violent crime in the U.S. has plummeted in recent decades, and studies repeatedly have shown that legal and illegal immigrants alike commit crimes at lower rates then their native-born counterparts. In the 1990s and 2000s the country’s illegal population is estimated to have tripled, yet over the same period violent crime declined nationwide by more than a third, and property crimes fell by almost as much. The U.S. crime problem is by and large homegrown, not imported. But statistics can’t comfort grieving families, and millions of Americans are understandably outraged when violent acts are committed by people who shouldn’t be here.
As he is wont to do, President Trump channeled that frustration at a rally in Indiana last week, where he mocked Democrats who want to focus on the people who enforce our immigration laws rather than those who break them. “We want to abolish MS-13. They want to abolish ICE,” said Mr. Trump, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “A vote for Republicans is a vote to support the brave heroes of ICE, Border Patrol, law enforcement and all of the other groups that work with us.”
Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images