There was a combination of confusion, anger, and relief at Donald Trump’s contortions last week to redefine his policy on immigration. Whether the effort will be successful will have to await the final results on November 8, but to the extent that Trump’s position is perceived as a promise of being the better law and order candidate, he’s on politically solid ground.
Americans feel that crime is on the rise
Most polls show that Americans are not for deporting some eleven million immigrants who are living in the country illegally. At the same time, Americans show little sympathy for illegal aliens who commit crimes while in the United States.
According to a Gallup poll, 70% of Americans feel crime in the U.S. is on the rise and 53% say they worry ‘a great deal’ about crime and violence, the highest number recorded by Gallup in the past 15 years. These figures are in spite of actual statistics that show that crime rates have dropped.
Crime rates in the U.S. are near all-time lows. Violent crime has been plummeting for decades. And the number of murders in America’s cities are nowhere near their levels of the late 1980s and 1990s.
— Time Magazine
Many feel that immigrants are making crime worse
There is a perception amongst Republicans and Independents that immigrants are making crime worse. A Pew Research Center report stated that 71% of Republicans and 50% of Independents feel that immigrants are making crime worse. In contrast, only 34% of Democrats agreed with that sentiment.
In Trump’s speech on immigration, he singled out ‘sanctuary cities’ as a particular problem in preventing crime.
We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths. Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars, and we will work with Congress to pass legislation to protect those jurisdictions that do assist federal authorities.
— Donald J. Trump
Public opposed to sanctuary cities
Trump appears to be on the right side of popular support in taking a tough stand on sanctuary cities. According to a report released by the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, Californians oppose the city sanctuary concept by a large margin. Some 73 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans are opposed to allowing sanctuary cities.
People are scared,” Donald Trump said recently, and he was not wrong. Fear is in the air, and fear is surging. Americans are more afraid today than they have been in a long time: Polls show majorities of Americans worried about being victims of terrorism and crime, numbers that have surged over the past year to highs not seen for more than a decade.
— The Atlantic
The extent to which Donald Trump is able to assure Americans that he can offer an alternative to the sense of fear that has come to pervade American life may be the key to his winning the election in November.