On Friday morning, an email was sent to reporters from the “Director of Surrogate & Coalitions Outreach” for the Office of Communications at the White House. It was titled “Immigration Crime Stories Round Up: Week of February 4th” and included nine clips from news articles meant to show evidence of criminal behavior by immigrants in the United States.
Before we dig into the content of the email, it’s worth establishing a bit of context. It’s been apparent for more than a year that the Trump administration sought to use the power of the White House to push out negative stories linking immigrants to crime. Shortly after Trump took office, he announced the creation of an office within the Department of Homeland Security called VOICE — Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office. The ostensible goal, first articulated in a memo from then-Homeland Security head John Kelly, was to give a voice to those who suffered at the hands of “criminal aliens” who “routinely victimize Americans and other legal residents.” On a quarterly basis, the president promised, VOICE would release assessments of that victimization.
Immediately, people noted the similarity between that effort and another notorious system of publicizing wrongdoing by a targeted group: The Nazi tactic of including stories about Jewish criminals in material the party published. At the time, The Post’s Amanda Erickson noted that “a regular government report is a far cry from the Nazis’ aggressive, constant drumbeat against the Jews.”
What arrived on Friday morning, though, wasn’t a quarterly report on crime. It was an attempt to depict immigrants as criminals broadly.
.As it turns out, there’s plenty of research into the question of whether or not immigrants are more likely to commit crime: They are not. First-generation immigrants (those who were born in other countries) are much less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. That’s all immigrants, but there’s also no indication that those here illegally are more likely to commit crimes than those born in America..
.Anyway, the distinction drawn in Kelly’s memo between legal and illegal immigrants is abandoned in this email from the Coalitions Outreach Director. There are nine stories included in the email, the first two of which address immigrants in the country legally. (The stories are about two people who entered through immigration programs that Trump has targeted as dangerous.) Several other stories deal with immigrants in the country illegally, including one story about someone who overstayed a legal visa.
.But all of that aside, the most revealing articles are two that were included from The Post.