I had initially planned to stay as far away as I could from anything overly political, but as a criminologist, I just couldn’t in good conscience leave this one alone. Donald Trump has apparently convinced his supporters that if a wall is built between the USA and Mexico, that the crime rate in the USA will reduce. His slogan “Build a Wall and Crime Will Fall” has become almost as popular as his “Make America Great Again” catch phrase. The purpose of this post is not to verbally bash anyone, even though many would argue that Trump deserves this. But that is not the reason I created this blog. This blog is for truth, not hate. And sorry but no one can convince me that they are sometimes the same thing.
But I digress…
There are so many problems with the notion that the crime rate of an entire country can be reduced simply by building a wall that one could actually write an entire book on the topic. And I have no doubt that others with more time than myself will do exactly that. But to give a very, very brief summary.
Crime is complex. Hugely complex. The entire study of criminology has been created to examine it and criminologists are never short of material to research. It is so complex that it can never be said that one specific thing (or group) causes it. And if crime does not have one cause, then it cannot possibly have one solution. Simple logic tells us that. The assertion on which the wall is based is that the crime rate in the USA is so high is because of immigrants, illegal and otherwise. Along with Trump’s tough immigration policy, the wall is another proposal he has made to reduce the crime rate based on this allegation. The problem is, its completely false and unfounded. I will spare you all the legions of data and statistics that confirm this, however I do encourage you all to have a look for yourselves. As always, be good skeptics. Don’t just take mine (or anyone else’s) word for it. Do your own research and fact check for yourselves.
To get you started, I’d recommend a fantastic book by Kevin Wright called The Great American Crime Myth. Even though its old, published in 1985, it shows us that even way back then, most people were missing the mark when it came to perceptions about crime in the USA. Immigration does not increase crime. Violent crime is not increasing. And neither is crime in general. A more recent study by Vaughn et al (2014) actually found that immigration has reduced the crime rate in the USA; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00127-013-0799-3
That’s right. REDUCED. Please, please do keep reading, locate your own sources. Like I said, be good skeptics. But the take home message here is that Trump’s wall will fail. All available empirical evidence is telling us that. Worst case scenario, it will actually increase the crime rate instead of reducing it. I’m hopeful that reason will win the day and the wall does not get built. Not only will it not achieve its attempted goal, it will be a costly and time consuming symbol of ignorance and racism that will scar the landscape and create a legacy of embarrassment and shame for years to come.