The law enforcement community is divided over the Trump administration’s claim that illegal immigrants are helping fuel a crime wave. Yesterday, Trump singled out a Central America-based international gang, MS-13, that it said had flourished under the Obama administration. In rapid succession, President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly all promoted a crackdown on illegal immigration they said would improve public safety, reports the Wall Street Journal.
While some officers welcome stricter immigration enforcement, others are concerned that a crackdown could deter undocumented residents from cooperating with police. President Obama’s backers sharply dispute the notion that his policies were weak, illegal or contributed to crime. Some criminal justice advocates say the Trump administration is exaggerating the threats to public safety. Crime rates remain near historic lows, despite surges in violence in a handful of large cities, and some studies show immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans. Wes McBride of the California Gang Investigators Association, a law enforcement group, agreed that tighter border security would curb gang activity, though he was hesitant to blame the Obama administration for growth of MS-13. Former San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne disputed the administration’s efforts to link illegal border crossings and crime. “It has nothing to do with lax [border] enforcement,” he said. “Once gangs are here, they recruit new members locally. They don’t immigrate.”