Trump said the immigrants coming from Mexico are criminals, “rapists”, and “bringing drugs” to America. That’s it. That’s the entire update. What else is really needed to understand why 71 percent in the Univision poll have an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump?
Given the seriousness of those accusations, a review of the available data on crime rates—noticeably absent from Trump’s remarks—would seem like a necessity. A new report by the American Immigration Council does exactly that. (The report is covered in more detail by The Wall Street Journal here.) For the TL;DR crowd, here’s the opening sentence from the Executive Summary of the report:
For more than a century, innumerable studies have confirmed two simple yet powerful truths about the relationship between immigration and crime: immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime.
In a normal year, Trump’s comments would have simply been attributed to the impolitic ravings of an also-ran looking to up his national profile. But in 2015, with Mr. Trump looking competitive (for now) in the polls, they could present a serious problem for the GOP.
Craig Kafura, a colleague at The Chicago Council, recently broke down GOP attitudes on immigration for an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The piece focuses on Scott Walker’s immigration stance, but also applies to Mr. Trump. In a nutshell, aiming at the far right on immigration may serve the interest of increasing support in the short-term, but will undermine the ability to win moderates in a broader election.
Luckily for the GOP, it is early days and no one expects Trump to make a serious run at the party’s nomination (except Trump himself). Unluckily for the GOP, he has plenty of time to further damage the GOP’s standing among Latino voters. In a bit of train wreck theatre, it is this expectation that is making the first GOP debate on August 6 such a highly anticipated event. Grab the popcorn and enjoy the spectacle.