Republicans are exploiting the murder of Mollie Tibbetts

If you’re not surprised by such a sentiment, that’s because it’s no longer news when conservatives and Republicans announce that immigrants, especially those here illegally, are uniquely prone to crime. In 2013, Representative Steve King of Iowa, who has called for electrifying the border with Mexico because we “do that with livestock all the time,” declared that for every undocumented immigrant “who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” In his successful bid for a Senate seat in Arkansas, Tom Cotton routinely argued that “liberals in Washington want to let illegal immigrants get Social Security for work they did with forged identities.” And of course, within minutes of announcing his presidential run in 2015, Donald Trump asserted that Mexicans entering the country were “bringing” drugs and crime.

Virtually all research concludes that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, commit fewer crimes, including violent crimes, than native-born Americans (among other things, they do not want to draw attention to themselves). In 2016, the Cato Institute’s Alex Nowratesh writes, “the homicide conviction rate for native-born Americans in Texas was 3.2 per 100,000 natives while it was 1.8 per 100,000 illegal immigrants and 0.9 per 100,000 legal immigrants.” In raw numbers, 32 undocumented immigrants and 28 legal immigrants were convicted of homicide in Texas, compared with 746 native-born Americans.