When Donald Trump recently appeared on NBC Nightly News, he was asked if he would soften his stance on immigration. Specifically, anchor Lester Holt asked Trump if he still supported a ban on Muslim immigrants.
“I do. We have to be vigilant. We have to be strong. We have to see what’s going on,” said Trump. “There’s a big problem in the world. You look what’s happening with the migration in Europe. You look at Germany, it’s crime-riddled right now.”
Many conservatives are also concerned about immigrants committing crime, and often point to supposedly skyrocketing crime rates in Germany and Sweden. However, as PolitiFact points out, there is little truth to those claims. When the site emailed Trump’s spokeswoman and asked for his sources, she did not respond.
This narrative is being created to scapegoat refugees and create an excuse for government ineptitude and complicity in crime.
— I am (@mackio_) May 11, 2016
Germany has become a target of conservatives because of their open border policy to refugees — 1.1 ,million refugees from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East entered the country last year, which increased the migrant population by 440 percent. However, crime increased only 79 percent.
According to Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office, a typical German is more likely to commit a crime than a refugee. The vast majority of crimes committed by migrants were minor charges, like petty theft and failing to pay for transit, and less than 1 percent of charges were sex crimes, despite claims made by Trump supporters and right wing pundits. Overall, Germany’s crime rate is still one-sixth of America’s.
These statistics, particularly the one that found that natural-born Germans were more likely to commit crimes than immigrants, have caused some controversy. Many pointed out that the statistics did not account for the reportedly hundreds of sexual assaults committed by North African migrants on New Years’ Eve. In general, many doubt the validity of the government’s statistics.
However, even if the crime statistics are under-reported, the numbers would still not suggest that Germany is now “riddled” with crime. In addition, not all immigrant groups are the same. Despite being a target of conservatives and xenophobes, immigrants from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq were found to be less likely to commit crimes than immigrants from regions like the Western Balkans.
In conclusion, Politifact found that Trump’s claims were “mostly false.” Crime has indeed risen in Germany, but it has risen proportionally to the rising population.
Featured image: UNHCR UN Refugee Agency (Flickr)