The Trump administration’s immigration policy is a cruel mess — children are being taken from their parents at the border and held in camps, mothers and fathers who have lived in the U.S. for decades are being deported, refugees from Muslim countries are effectively banned from coming to the U.S. and officials plan to review the files of millions of naturalized citizens.

This is all horrid and unnecessary, especially because the administration’s obsession with limiting immigration is based on unfounded fears and lies.

During campaign rallies and debates, Donald Trump painted a dark, scary picture of many immigrants coming to America. They were murders and rapists. “ Bad hombres,” as he called them.

Such claims fired up his base, but they are untrue.

First-generation immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Numerous studies have found that undocumented immigrants also commit crimes, both violent and non-violent, at much lower rates than Americans.

U.S. crime rates have been dropping for decades. Overall, the violent crime rate in the United States was far lower in 2015, the most recent year for which the Department of Justice has comparable data, than it was in 1993.

Likewise, Trump told the economically dispossessed that they were unemployed or underemployed because immigrants, often ones who he said came here illegally, were taking jobs away from hard-working Americans. Again, this fueled anger and anti-immigration sentiment, but it is not true.

American workers are much more likely to lose their job to a robot or China than immigrants. University of Maryland economists Katharine Abraham and Melissa Kearney calculated that trade with China cost the U.S. economy 2.65 million jobs from 1999 to 2016. Research shows that each robot takes the jobs of about 5.6 workers. More than 250,000 robots had been added to U.S. workplaces since 1999, so the economists calculated that robots cost the economy another 1.4 million workers.

Immigration did not factor into the job loss, the economists found.

In fact, few Americans are going without jobs. The U.S. unemployment rate is under 4 percent, a number not seen since 2000. May marked the 92nd month of job gains, the longest string of such months on record.

In addition to skewing data to make immigrants look scary, the Trump administration is trying to hide research that shows they are significant contributors to our country. Last year, it suppressed a study by the Department of Health and Human Services showing that refugees contributed $63 billion more to government coffers, through federal, state and local taxes, than they cost over the past decade.

That comports with other reports that found immigrants are a net benefit to the economy, especially when it comes to starting businesses.

Studies have found that Trump administration attempts to reduce legal immigration would leave Americans poorer by shrinking the country’s gross domestic product. Restricting immigration would also shrink the number of people who pay into retirement programs, including Social Security. This would make such programs less financially viable.

America is a country built on immigration — the first settlers came here to escape persecution. New immigrants are no different. Some are escaping violence and persecution in their home countries. Some are coming to America seeking work. All are coming here for a better life.

Calling them “animals” and taking away their children, who are left to cry and scream and wonder when, if ever, they will see their families again, is inhumane.

Under any circumstances, the Trump administration’s immigration policies are mean spirited and wrong. They are even more egregious because they are based on lies about who is trying to come to America and why.

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