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EDITORIAL: Trump focusing on wrong issues in death of Colts player

This is one interpretation of the issue. The other can be seen here. 

President Trump’s comments on the death of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson are another instance in a long series of actions by Trump that aim to reframe crime as something it is not: an immigration problem.

After Jackson was killed in a suspected drunk driving accident last weekend, Trump tweeted about the incident. 

Manuel Orrega-Savala, the man suspected of killing Jackson in a drunk driving accident, is an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, as reported by CNN

President Trump appears to be using the death of a high-profile athlete to advance his crackdown on immigration and his planned southern border wall. 

The problem is not that Trump is politicizing a tragic event. Tragedies occur within social contexts, and it’s vital to discuss their political implications. The problem is that Trump’s angle on this story is irrational and not based in facts.

A major aspect of Trump’s rhetoric, both as a candidate and as president,  over the course of the past two and a half years  has been the demonization of immigrants by associating them with crime and immoral behavior. The first well-known example of this rhetoric was his description of Mexican immigrants to the U.S.: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

One of Trump’s first executive orders, issued Jan. 25, 2017, ordered the creation of a special office within Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office. 

The VOICE office actually does very little. According to its website, its mission is to provide victims of crimes by undocumented immigrants with contacts that can give out information regarding “criminal aliens” in ICE custody.

The apparent purpose of the VOICE office is the same as the purpose of Trump’s comments on Jackson’s death. Trump appears to want Americans to believe that immigration, particularly illegal immigration, drives crime. 

Research reveals the opposite. Study after study has demonstrated that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

When politicians place special emphasis on crimes committed by a particular group, even when that group commits a disproportionately low number of crimes, there is a clear aim to demonize that group.

Even so, Trump’s logic is appealing to some. Some may believe Orrega-Savala wasn't in the United States, maybe Jackson would still be alive today. 

That logic, though, rests on the notion that we should value American lives above others. There is no reason to believe that Orrega-Savala would be any less likely to engage in drunk driving were he still living in Guatemala. 

If Trump wants to politicize the death of Edwin Jackson, he should do so by highlighting the dangers of drunk driving, not scapegoating undocumented immigrants.

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