How do you prevent crimes committed by undocumented immigrants?
Parodoxically, America doesn’t need even more intensified efforts to aggressively hunt down unlawful immigrants and deport them. What it needs is a path to citizenship.
This past weekend, an undocumented immigrant who had reportedly been deported on five previous occasions shot and killed a woman in a busy part of San Francisco. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who had previously made waves for suggesting that most Mexican immigrants were drug dealers and rapists, doubled down in the wake of the San Francisco homicide. Trump argued the shooting provided “yet another example of why we must secure our border.”
And while some in the GOP field took exception to Trump’s remarks, Senator Ted Cruz supported Trump’s conclusion. “I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration,” said Cruz before attacking the idea of immigration reform.
But what if immigration reform is actually the solution?
The current system has left many Latinos—immigrant and native born alike—alienated from law enforcement. In a 2013 study conducted by Lake Research Partners, as well as scholars from PolicyLink and the University of Illinois at Chicago, 45 percent of Latinos reported that fear of police investigating either their own immigration status or the status of people they know makes them less likely to voluntarily offer information about crimes. Even 28 percent of U.S.-born Latinos said that they are less likely to contact police officers even if they’ve been the victims of a crime because they fear police will look into the immigration status of people they know. Among undocumented immigrants, fully 70 percent report they are less likely to contact police.