Last night’s State of the Union Address by President Donald Trump included multiple statements regarding immigration, but not all were accurate.

1. Myth: “The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”

Truth: I lived in El Paso, TX for over half my life, before the border wall was built. The crime rate in El Paso did not substantially change after the border wall. In fact, El Paso before and after the wall has been and continues to be one of the safest cities in the U.S.

“According to an analysis of FBI crimes data and city law enforcement data…violent crime in El Paso peaked in 1993. Border fence construction didn’t begin until 2008, and was completed in 2009. But violent crime fell long before the wall was built in El Paso, with violent crime falling 34% between 1993 and 2006 in the city.” (CNN Politics)

2. Myth: “Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens.”

Truth: Most immigrants are honest, hard working people who simply want a better life for their family. In fact, “Immigrants do not increase local crime rates, [and] are less likely to cause crime than their native-born peers” (Cato Institute via NBC)

3. Partial Myth: “There’s nothing anywhere in the world that can compete with America.”

Truth: While it may be true that America is the strongest nation and economic power in the world, our economic strength relies heavily on immigrant labor, both documented and undocumented. Currently, at least half of agricultural workers in the U.S. are undocumented immigrants, as estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (CBS News).

The Solution. We are a nation of immigrants, and we need to provide more legal avenues for immigrants to come to the U.S. I support President Trump in assigning more of the budget to immigration. However, focusing the majority of the budget on building “the wall” would not be the answer.

So what is the answer?

As a chemist, I used to study how molecules behave under pressure – they travel down the path of least resistance. The same is often true for people. Most people when under pressure will travel down the path of least resistance, especially when their lives and families are threatened. So we need to make legal immigration the path of least resistance, and we need to stop funding the drug cartels that threaten our southern neighbors’ families and lives.

How do we do this?

  • We need more work visas to support industries that already rely on undocumented immigrants to put food on our tables, literally.
  • We need better technology to speed up visa processing times, so that immigrants with legal avenues don’t have to wait years or decades to legalize.
  • We need to identify and rehabilitate all drug users within the U.S., in order to de-fund Mexican and Central American drug cartels, which are primarily responsible for destabilizing economies, threatening families, and pressuring them to flee.

Let’s ask President Trump to focus not just on border control but also on immigration solutions that will work.

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