Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Will Clinton or Trump Help Families of Murder Victims?

A mother or wife who has lost a child or a spouse to a shooting steps up to the podium, briefly identifies herself and describes the promising life that has been cut short. She tells the audience that the candidate she supports will stop more senseless killings like this one and the crowd, sympathetically cheers their courage. Clinton or Trump? Both. 

Clinton has brought to the stage families of African Americans who have died at the hands of police and Trump the mothers and spouses of those killed by undocumented immigrants.

Are the candidates using these families for crass political gain or are they giving voice to their grief in order to highlight a grievous wrong that they intend to fix as president? And is there moral equivalence in the solutions they espouse?

Because I support Clinton and abhor Trump, my knee jerk reaction was that there is no equivalence, and that there is something untoward in one white woman after another coming to the stage to name the Latino criminal responsible for a death. But, I asked myself, why was that different than the black women who came to the stage to talk about their children or spouses? 

The answer may have come slowly, but it came. There is equivalence in the pain these family feel, but there is no equivalence in the solution the candidates offer to solve the problem their family members’ deaths represent.

“There's no evidence that immigrants are either more or less likely to commit crimes than anyone else in the population," says Janice Kephart, a researcher for the Center for Immigration Studies. This fact flies in the face of Trump’s insinuations that immigrants from Mexico are primarily criminals. Roughly 2-3% of Americans may commit a violent crime. Yet in order to prevent violent crime of those who might commit it within the population of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States Donald Trump proposes on most days to deport all eleven million, and on some days to deport immediately any that have been arrested for anything and decide later what to do about the rest.

In order to reduce the shooting of blacks by police, Hillary Clinton proposes to increase training for police departments on the use of force and to help them buy body cameras so that after an incident police can be either prosecuted or exonerated based on hard evidence rather than witness testimony only.

So, on one hand, disrupt the lives of millions of people including millions of innocent women and children, some of whom are American citizens, and on the other hand spend some money to help communities improve their police forces. Where is the moral equivalence?

And for the record, while Clinton doesn’t specifically address violent crime by undocumented immigrants, she does plan to focus resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety and reduce gun violence by getting more illegal guns off our streets and keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them by closing the gun show loophole and expanding background checks. Hillary has plans that will keep our country safe while preserving our freedom and our unique status in the world as a nation of immigrants. Trump would neither keep us safe nor keep us great. Trump’s America is like no America we have every seen.

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