The world according to Donald Trump looks a lot like the 1986 movie, "The Three Amigos." Trump is Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Chevy Chase – The Amigos – all balled up into one. And Trump much like the Amigos is on a mission to defend the village of Santo Poco (the United States) from the criminality, raping, and pillaging of El Guapo (Mexican immigrants).
This melodramatic and light-hearted comedy makes for a good two hours of mindless entertainment. But we now seem to be living in a bizarro world where Americans are taking the Three Amigos storyline as truth.
The facts according to Donald Trump are that the United States is being overrun with Mexican rapists and criminals. In the meantime, the Mexican government keeps pumping over hoards of immigrants across the border. This "truth" helped vault Trump into first place in the GOP presidential contest and has transformed him from a sideshow to center stage.
However, the world according to Trump is very different than the real world, a world that is based on facts. Donald Trump’s claims come at a time when migration from Mexico isn’t just at a decades-long low, but when there are more Mexicans leaving the United States than entering it.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center provides a detailed analysis of how the Mexican population has been in decline since 2007. More specifically, the study finds that there is a negative net migration. Since 2009 an estimated 870,000 Mexican nationals migrated to the United States while one million Mexican nationals migrated back into Mexico. It’s not rocket science- it's math.
The fact (or truth) is that there are no hordes of Mexicans coming over into the United States. Beyond this simple fact is the larger truth that immigrants, including Mexican immigrants are a boon for our economic growth. And the claims of immigration being good for the economy isn’t just progressive mumbo jumbo, just take a look at a report from the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.
Even though immigration from Mexico is down and immigration as a whole is good for the economy this doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for frustration. Our immigration system is broken. And while immigration at the aggregate is good for our economy, at the individual level job displacement does happen. There is a “there” to feeling frustration or anger at our immigration system. But the anger toward Mexican immigrants or even the Mexican government is misplaced. The real focus of the anger should be our own politicos who continue to kick the can down the road of immigration policy reform.
Citing statistics doesn’t make for a good story. And Donald Trump has chosen the age-old tactic of fanning emotions to create a good story and political wins.
As NBC News’ First Read points out, exaggeration and even outright lying are nothing new in politics. But Donald Trump has taken the art of fudging to a new level so much so that the First Read crew labels him the “post-truth 2016 candidate.”
Being a post-truth candidate, an exaggerator, and an immigration/immigrant fearmonger may allow for short-term political gain. But in the long run we imperil our core values of liberty and freedom and it gets us farther away from a practical solution to immigration.