President Donald Trump. Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

In this week’s roundup: The mountain of studies that obliterate the link between immigrants and crime, hate attacks at Pride events, how white supremacy may dissolve a town’s government and more.

Donald Trump began his presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants drug dealers and rapists.

He’s doubled down since becoming president, using the specter of criminality to justify separating families at the border and other immigration crackdowns.

It’s a sentiment many Americans share. A 2017 Gallup survey found 45 percent of respondents believed immigrants are making the crime situation in America worse.

That’s not true. Scores of academic studies have disproved the racist theory that immigrants, especially nonwhite ones, pose an elevated threat of criminality.  

  • As immigration goes up, crime goes down, according to a 2018 study from the University of Wisconsin and Purdue University.
  • Increased immigration likely caused crime to decrease in most metro areas, a massive study led by a researcher at State University of New York Buffalo found.
  • First-generation immigrants are far less likely to commit crime than native-born Americans, according to a Pew study.
  • “Criminal conviction and arrest rates for immigrants were well below those of native-born Americans,” which holds true for both legal and undocumented immigrants, according to a Cato Institute analysis of data from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
  • “Undocumented immigrants may be less likely to engage in serious criminal offending behavior (than U.S. natives),” a researcher at Texas A&M International University found. The report added that immigrants are, if anything, more likely to be victims of crime than native-born Americans.
  • “Foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their life course” and second-generation immigrants offend at roughly the same rate as all native-born Americans, reads a study out of University of Massachusetts Boston.
  • “U.S.-born adult men are incarcerated at a rate over two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men,” a study by the Public Policy Institute of California discovered, using data from California prisons.
  • “Compared to documented immigrants and US-born peers, undocumented immigrants report engaging in less crime prior to and following their first arrest,” a paper published in the journal Migration Letters found.
  • Immigrants are incarcerated at one-fifth the rate of native-born Americans, a 2007 study looking at data back to 1980 found. The study’s authors conclude: “The process of migration selects individuals who either have lower criminal propensities or are more responsive to deterrent effects than the average native.”
  • Finding that immigrants are “much less likely than natives to commit crimes,” a 2015 report by the National Academy of Sciences blames the perception of a link between immigrants and crime on, “ ‘issue entrepreneurs’ who promote the immigrant-crime connection in order to drive restrictionist immigration policy … and media portrayals of non-whites and immigrants as prone to violence and crime.”
  • “Undocumented immigration has not increased the prevalence of drug or alcohol problems,” notes a study looking at data stretching between 1990 and 2014.

Hate strikes Pride events

LGBTQ Pride Month is the commemoration of a community standing up against hate.

In June 1969, New York Police Department officers raided Stonewall Inn, a bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village that effectively functioned as community center for the city’s marginalized LGBTQ community. During the raid, police violently dragged patrons out of the bar, firing off homophobic insults in the process. The raid sparked massive demonstrations. Police turned fire hoses on protesters and the bar was hit with a firebomb. The first Pride marches were around the raid’s one-year anniversary.

The LGBTQ community has won civil rights victories in the decades since. But violence remains.

This year, Pride celebrations around the country were marred by shocking incidents of hate-fueled violence, much of it in direct reaction to progress made by the movement.

Here are some examples of hate at Pride we found this month:

• Kynan Dutton was arrested at the Knox Pridefest in Knoxville, Tennessee, for allegedly throwing a man to the ground. Dutton, a leader in the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, was there to demonstrate against the event. “There’s pro-white organizations out here for the protesting of this act of sexual deviance and degeneracy that is being promoted upon our youth,” Dutton told Knox News.

• A Massachusetts woman yelled homophobic slurs at a man carrying a rainbow flag on the subway following the Boston Pride Parade. She later pulled a knife on a bystander who intervened on the victim’s behalf.  

• Four gay men were reportedly chased by a mob shouting anti-gay harassment during a Pride event in Salt Lake City. The victims ran into a local dessert shop. The shopkeeper, Terrance Mannery, fought off the mob until a security guard entered the fray and the dispersed the mob. “The way that I was raised was to stand up for yourself, stand up against bullies, and try to do unto others as you want done to yourself,” Mannery told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

* In the hours after a Pride event in Jackson Heights, Queens, a 25-year-old man was assaulted by two suspects who yelled anti-gay epithets while attacking him from behind.

• A brother and sister were assaulted by a man as they were making their way home from a Pride event in Portland, Oregon. “During the attack he was using the word ‘faggot,’ ” Katelin Durnal told KGW8. “After he punched (my brother) Greg he told us to have a gay day.”

• In April, four men were charged with beating up a gay couple following a Pride event in Miami Beach, Florida. Prosecutors charged the suspects with anti-gay hate crimes. However, the father of one of the suspects recently defended his son against accusations of homophobia, saying that he himself is gay and raised his son with his same-sex partner.

“Pride is a time of increased political visibility as well as a public celebration of who we are as LGBTQ people – and that visibility has frequently been met with violent backlash,” GLAAD Communications Director Sue Yacka-Bible told us.

Alleged white supremacist takeover could mean the end of a North Dakota town

The residents of a tiny North Dakota town are now faced with the potential of having white supremacists on their City Council.

As a result of the recent election, the mayor would prefer to just shut it down. Leith, North Dakota, Mayor Ryan Schock has collected signatures from 12 of his 18 constituents calling for the abolition of the city’s government, ceding control to the county.

In 2013, a white supremacist named Craig Cobb purchased a score of properties around town with the intention of turning into a haven of white nationalism. The town’s residents rallied together and blocked Cobb’s efforts. Cobb received four years’ probation for terrorizing local residents by parading through Leith openly carrying weapons.

You may remember the name Kynan Dutton from earlier in this Hate Report. He was arrested with Cobb during his first attempt to take over Leith, as the man charged with a hate crime for assaulting someone at this year’s Knoxville Pride festival.

After his sentencing, Cobb vowed to retire from white nationalism. However, two people who moved to town during Cobb’s takeover attempt, and bought property their property from him, just won seats on the council.

“We have to dissolve the town because that idiot (Cobb) showed up,” Schock told the Bismarck Tribune. “He wanted control of it, and now he can’t have it.”

The new council members pushed back assertions that they’re connected with hate.

“We were plain people when we lived in Wisconsin and we’re plain workers here. There’s nothing special about us, we don’t belong to any clubs, any organizations,” one of the new council members told local news station KFYR. “Not a political party, not so here. We’re just trying to help the city,” added the other.

A vote for whether or not to dissolve the town is scheduled for July 23.

The SPLC says sorry

Earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a report it called a “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.” In that guide, it included Quilliam Foundation and its founder Maajid Nawaz, a move the organization now admits was a mistake.

The SPLC has pulled the guide from its site, apologized to both Nawaz and Quilliam, and agreed to pay out over $3 million in a settlement. The Daily Beast reports that the original version of the guide accused Nawaz of causing “hate-based violence” and giving a list of radical Muslims to the London Metropolitan Police, a claim Nawaz denies.

“(Nawaz) thinks the SPLC authors may have been led astray by their sources,” the Daily Beast reports. “He suggested they were unfamiliar with the political and social terrain in Britain and relied on ‘community groups’ with their own Islamist political agendas.”

As a teen, Nawaz was a member of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, but renounced the ideology after a stint in an Egyptian prison. He founded Quilliam to advocate against Islamist fundamentalism.

“Since we published the Field Guide, we have taken the time to do more research and have consulted with human rights advocates we respect,” the SPLC wrote in a statement. “We’ve found that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.”

“Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists,” the statement continued.

Other entities the SPLC has accused of trafficking in hate jumped on the opportunity to pile onto the civil rights group. In a joint statement released last week, a coalition of 47 groups, including Center for Security Policy and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, urged the public to stop relying on the SPLC for information about hate groups.

The letter read:

Editors, CEOs, shareholders and consumers alike are on notice: anyone relying upon and repeating its misrepresentations is complicit in the SPLC’s harmful defamation of large numbers of American citizens who, like the undersigned, have been vilified simply for working to protect our country and freedoms.

Congressman who retweeted neo-Nazi doesn’t say sorry

Republican Iowa Congressman Steve King recently retweeted a tweet by Mark Collett, a British neo-Nazi, criticizing nonwhite immigration into European countries.

King’s tweet drew widespread criticism, even drawing a mild rebuke from the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan. However, King, who frequently promotes white nationalism, has refused to back down.

In an interview with CNN, King insisted he wasn’t aware of Collett’s white supremacist background, but said he had no regrets about sharing the message. “Because then it’d be like I’m admitting that I did something, now I’m sorry about it. I’m not sorry. I’m human,” King said.

During the interview, he repeated sentiments that wouldn’t be out of place on white supremacist forums like Stormfront. “I want to see the American civilization strengthened,” King said. “That means we are a Judeo-Christian country, and we could not have succeeded without our Founding Fathers’ (knowing) that,” he said.

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Have a hate incident to report? Tell us about it here, or contact The Hate Report team: Aaron Sankin can be reached at asankin@revealnews.org, and Will Carless can be reached at wcarless@revealnews.org. Follow them on Twitter: @asankin and @willcarless.

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Aaron Sankin is a reporter for Reveal covering online extremism, election administration and technology policy. Before joining Reveal, he was a founding editor of The Huffington Post's San Francisco vertical and a senior staff writer on The Daily Dot's politics team. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Salon, Time, The Motley Fool, Mashable, Business Insider, San Francisco magazine and The Onion. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Sankin studied history and sociology at Rice University. His work at The Daily Dot was a finalist in Digiday's 2015 publisher of the year award, and a story he wrote about a Midwestern family being terrorized by a teenage hacker was labeled by The Atlantic as an essential piece of journalism for 2015. Sankin is based in Seattle.