There is no doubt that the candidacy of Donald Trump has reignited the immigration debate. There is also no doubt that while Americans may disagree over how to deal with our broken immigration system, there is a general consensus that it must be fixed.

The problem with the approach of both Trump and the media to this debate is that it’s not rooted in all of the facts.

When the citizens of the United States engage in important policy debates, they are always best served when the relevant facts and data lay the foundation of those discussions. Sadly, that is not what we are seeing in the immigration debate. A clear example of this was seen on a recent edition of Meet the Press in the interview conducted by host Chuck Todd. When discussing Trump’s plan to deport the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., the following exchange occurred: 

Trump: Chuck, do you think there is tremendous cost for the illegals who are here right now?

Todd: Of course there is cost.

Trump: Tremendous. Do you think there is tremendous crime being committed by illegals?

Todd: There is definitely evidence that it’s happening.

Todd’s decision not to challenge Trump’s vague assertions left millions of viewers with the impression that the undocumented immigrants living in our country hurt our economy. It also left viewers with the impression that the majority of undocumented immigrants are dangerous criminals. The facts, however, tell a different story.

A 2011 study published by the American Immigration Council shows that undocumented immigrants pay sales tax and property tax, and at least half pay income tax. The report indicated that collectively these households annually contributed more than $11.2 billion in state and local taxes, $8.4 billion of which was from sales taxes alone.

A 2013 study conducted for the Mortgage Bankers Association by University of Southern California Professor Dowell Myers showed that a significant percentage of growth in the housing market was due to immigrant households. The national contribution from property taxes paid by undocumented immigrants was more than $1.6 billion annually. This is in addition to the value added by increasing home values.

In 2013, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposed an immigration-reform bill that would enable undocumented immigrants to earn legal status after meeting specific citizenship criteria and tighter border controls were established. Underlying this proposal was a Congressional Budget Office study that showed that, if passed, the legislation would result in a net gain of more than $458 billion in additional revenue over 10 years.

And the oft-repeated claim that undocumented immigrants are dangerous criminals, buttressed by the media’s disproportionate coverage of a handful of stories of horrible crimes committed by them, is also not an accurate representation of the facts. There are hundreds of reputable studies that dispute this assertion, including one by the Migration Policy Institute, where researchers found that for every ethnic group, without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans who make up the largest part of the undocumented population.

Sensible policymakers agree that dangerous criminals should not be allowed to enter or remain in the United States. They also agree that undocumented immigrants who commit crimes must be punished and deported. However, it is irrational, inaccurate and not in the best interest of the debate to judge the entire population of undocumented immigrants by the actions of a small minority of bad actors.

When covering immigration in America, the media rarely focus on the millions of hard-working men and women who positively contribute to the nation’s economy, particularly in the agriculture, hospitality and health-care sectors. They also play an important role in the U.S. military. Since 2001, about 107,000 immigrants have been naturalized after serving in the armed forces, and many others have died in uniform protecting our nation. Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, who came to America without documents when he was 14 after his parents died, was one of those brave individuals. He was killed in Iraq in 2003, one of the first casualties of the war.

Let us have a debate on immigration, but let us consider all the facts and not make it about partisan politics or gross generalizations, but instead about what is ultimately in the best interest of this great nation.

Originally published in the Orlando FL Sentinel.