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How Trump Won (yes won) the Shutdown and What We Can Conclude About Immigration, Income and Crime

The general consensus is that Trump lost the government shutdown. I think he won it. Before I explain why, let's look at some data.

There is nothing like data to undermine certainty.
Donald Trump and Ann Coulter believe that more immigrants mean higher unemployment and / or lower wages and more crime. Let's take a look at the data.

First, let's look at a smattering of Cities with population between 200,000 and 300,000. 

Median household income varies greatly, from about $34k a year in Buffalo, NY to $96k in Irvine, CA. Irvine's population is about 40% foreign-born, about 10X Buffalo's 4%. Irvine's income is nearly 3X as high.

The correlation between these two variables - income and Immigration -  is not perfect but seems to hold through most of the cities.

In general, as the percentage of the population that is foreign-born rises, so does median household income.

What about violent crime? Surely it will rise as the percentage of immigrants goes up, no?

Well, in the above table we can again look at the two cities at the extremes of foreign born to look at the relationship. In Buffalo, violent crime is 179% higher than the national average. That is nearly 3X higher. By contrast, in Irvine violent crime is 86% lower than the national average. (It could only be 100% lower for the simple reason that once violent crime drops to zero it cannot go any lower. 86% lower than the national average is kind of amazing.) We can, again, look at a graph to see how well the data fits the line that is the best fit through all those points.

 Crime doesn't fit as neatly with immigrants but it does generally drop as the percentage of immigrants rises. 

What about the ten biggest cities in America, you say. This might hold for mid-size cities but what about cities of millions? (And as it turns out, only the country's ten biggest cities have populations of more than a million.) Well, I have a table for that as well.
The city with the lowest median household income - Philadelphia - is comprised of 13% immigrants and the city with the highest median household income is comprised of 39% immigrants. Household income in San Jose is more than double what it is in Philadelphia and the percentage of immigrants in San Jose is triple what it is in Philadelphia. Here's what the graph look like that tries to plot the relationship between these two variables for the cities over a million. 

 Finally, we take a look at the relationship between the percentage of foreign born and violent crime rate in America's biggest cities. Chicago is the most violent of America's biggest cities and it is 21% immigrants. San Jose is the least violent (it's violent crime runs 6% lower than the national average) and has 39% immigrants.  The graph looks like this.

Now there are a few arguments you could make when faced with this data. One, you could say that immigrants move into more affluent or peaceful cities but don't help to create affluence or safety. Perhaps the best cities would be even better if not for the percentage of immigrants who move there. The data moves together but immigration doesn't cause higher incomes or lower crime. Perhaps.

You could argue that immigration has a fairly weak correlation to income and crime, even if it is in the right direction for pro-immigration arguments. The R-squared measure is a simple measure of how well a line fits through the data; at best (median income and foreign-born % in cities of ~250,000) these move together about 40% and at worst (the relationship between violent crime and immigration in America's ten biggest cities) about 24%. So you might say, "Well sure, it seems positive but obviously other factors are a bigger determinant than immigration." 

Those are valid - but weak - arguments that you could make to discount the relationship between immigration and incomes or crime.

What is not valid to conclude from this data? Higher rates of immigration lowers household income or raises crime. That simply does not fit the data.

What does this mean? It means that Congress should ignore Trump's demands that they take immigration more seriously. Why? Because immigration is - at the least - a non-issue and - at most - is actually a huge positive that we should encourage rather than discourage. And in spite of that, Trump has forced House and Senate members to treat immigration as if it is an important issue to address. (They have three weeks to "resolve" the issue before another shutdown could hit.) It simply is not. And this is an argument that I've made recently here. Trump has won the shutdown because he has forced Congress to take a non-issue seriously. That's such a waste of leadership potential, solving imaginary problems rather than real ones.

In the minds of Ann Coulter and Donald Trump, you could predict unemployment rates based on immigration rates. Immigrants steal jobs. So, if one city of two million had no immigrants its unemployment rate would be zero and if another city of two million had a million immigrants, its unemployment rate would be 50%. And of course this is an inane way to think about an urban economy, almost as if you thought that black bodies and white bodies were affected differently by gravity. When a person buys gas or groceries, the market hasn't a clue whether they were born within a block of that place or half a world away. 

There are any number of issues that congress should consider if they are intent on raising income, lowering crime and making life better. Immigration is not one of them. If anything, the data suggests that Congress should do what it can to increase immigration, not decrease it.

We're suffering from the worst recorded case ever of an old man talking back to his TV. Terrifyingly, making his narcissism seem justified rather than delusional, his TV then talks back to him. Trump is on a closed-circuit loop with Fox news. Facts have little influence on his thinking. He gets his talking points from Fox and then they report on what he has talked about. Like Hendrix's guitar, the feedback just increases the volume and the distortion as Trump talks to FOX (Frightened Old Xenophobes) and FOX talks back to him. 

My two cents? Congress should ignore his insistence that they treat immigration as a real problem and instead either insist on studies or even celebrate immigration as a positive. It's time to dampen the feedback before we are all made as crazy as Trump.

This post first appeared on R World, please read the originial post: here

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How Trump Won (yes won) the Shutdown and What We Can Conclude About Immigration, Income and Crime


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