More Anti-Immigration Scare Stats

A while back, I pointed out that immigration opponents seemed to be depending on American's having poor match skills and a pathetic knowledge of history.  Today in this post from Captain's Quarters we find more statistical funny business.  Captain Ed, like many conservatives, have been stumping for the US to build a big honking fence at the border, nominally as part of the war on terrorism.

Of course according to supporters it is only about security, not xenophobia, which explains why the fence proposal in Congress covers both our northern and southern borders since both are equally porous to terrorists.  Oh, wait, the law only covers the southern border?  Oh.  Well, I hope terrorists can't read a map and don't notice that the northern border is three times as long and in many cases more unpopulated and unguarded than the southern border.

Anyway, another "security" argument by immigration foes is that hordes of criminals are apparently pouring across the border, and walls are proposed as a way to stop them.  The Captain quotes Bill Frist:

One of the most important and most effective ways that we can stop
illegal immigration is through the construction and proper maintenance
of physical fences along the highest trafficked, most commonly violated
sections of our border with Mexico.

Take the case of San Diego. According to the FBI Crime Index, crime
in San Diego County dropped 56.3% between 1989 and 2000, after a fence
stretching from the Ocean to the mountains near San Diego was
substantially completed. And, according to numbers provided by the San
Diego Sector Border Patrol in February 2004, apprehensions decreased
from 531,689 in 1993 to 111,515 in 2003.

Whoa. That sounds impressive.  But, remember what I often say on this site -- correlation is not causation.  Indeed, it is not just random chance that he picked the years 1989 - 2000.  Those were the years that nearly every part of the US saw a huge drop in its crime rate.  Using this data for these years, and presuming Frist is using the crime rate index per 100,000 people, which is the stat that makes the most sense, here are some figures for 1989 - 2000:

Crime Rate Change, 1989-2000:
US :  - 28%
Arizona:  -28%
California: - 45%
New York: -51%

Wow!  The border fence in San Diego even had a similarly large effect on crime in New York State!  That thing is amazing.  Oh, and note these are state figures.  My understanding is that the figures for large metropolitan areas is even more dramatic.  So what happened in 1989 to 2000 is every state and in particular every large metropolitan area in the country saw huge double digit drops in crime, and San Diego was no exception.   But Frist tries to give credit to the border fence.

In case you want to believe that Frist does not know what he is doing with these stats (ie that he wasn't intentionally trying to give credit for a national demographic trend to a border fence in San Diego) notice that 1989 was the US crime rate peak and 2000 was the US crime rate low point.  So with data for the years up to 2005 available, he just happens to end his period at 2000.  Oh, and the new style fences he wants to emulate were actually only started in 1996 (and here, search for "triple fence"), AFTER most of these crime gains had been made.  Correlation definitely does not equal causation when the proposed cause occurred after the effect.

For all of you who always wanted to live in Soviet East Berlin, you may soon get a good taste of that experience:

The first fence, 10 feet high, is made of welded metal panels. The
second fence, 15 feet high, consists of steel mesh, and the top is
angled inward to make it harder to climb over. Finally, in high-traffic
areas, there's also a smaller chain-link fence. In between the two main
fences is 150 feet of "no man's land," an area that the Border Patrol
sweeps with flood lights and trucks, and soon, surveillance cameras.

Below are views of Nogales, AZ and Berlin.  Nothing alike.  Nope.  Totally different.

Nogaleswall_1 Berlinwall

Finally, I will give the last word to Frist, bold added.

That's why I strongly support the Secure Fence Act of 2006 "¦ and that's
why I'm bringing this crucial legislation to the floor of the Senate
this week for an up-or-down vote. By authorizing the construction of
over 700 miles of two-layered reinforced fencing along our southwest
border and by mandating the use of cameras, ground sensors, UAVs and
other forms of hi-tech surveillance, this legislation would help us
gain control over every inch of our borders "“ once and for all.

"gain control over every inch of our borders," except, or course, for those 3000 5525 miles (350 million inches) to the north where the people on the other side have the courtesy not to speak a foreign language.  But its hard to demagogue well about a threat from Canadians, since they are mostly WASPs like we mostly are, or at least it has been for the last 100 years or so.  54-40 or fight!

Update: Here is that terrifying Canadian border barrier (from this site).  This demonstrates why our terrorist security dollars need to all be invested on the southern border, since this one is already locked down tight.  Heck, there is one of these babies (below) every mile!  Beware terrorists!


And don't forget these terrorist-proof border checkpoints along our northern frontier:


But it's not about race.

Update 2:  Yes, my emailers are correct.  I did not actually give Frist the last word like I said I would.  Gosh, I feel so bad about that.

Update 3:  Welcome to readers of my favorite site, Reason's Hit and Run.  It looks like Texas may soon consider a border fence, though with Louisiana instead of Mexico.


  1. Frank Ch. Eigler:

    Comparing the Berlin wall to this type of fence is deeply ignorant. Read up on how many people were killed trying to cross one; why they tried to cross; whether the fence was built to keep people *in* versus *out*.

    Comparing the proposed border fence to one around your own home would be far more accurate, but then that wouldn't serve your cause.

  2. faultolerant:

    Coyote, While I usually find your comments to be quite level-headed, I'm a bit perplexed that you spare no rod for the muddleheaded "math" of your enemies then step right out and do the same thing:

    You rail against the southern border "wall" and make snide remarks about how secure the northern border is. Yes, those who say (Like Frist) that we're securing ALL our borders are foolish, that doesn't obviate the fact that a boatload more folks cross that souther border than do the northern one.

    I'll be honest - I'm a total hypocrite when it comes to Mexicans. I like using them for cheap labor but I consider them to be beneath contempt. I'm quite happy to close the border and start shooting the ones that do get through. That's sure slow down border crossings...or at least make them "Game Show" worthy.

    Frankly, I couldn't care less about these people. We all have our own sob stories and theirs is no more worthy of consideration than anyone else. You say (in previous posts) that they're "only coming here to work". So what! Like that makes them somehow "special". It does not - it just means they're unemployed. Unemployed, low skilled and easily replaced.

    Bottom line: I'm tired of paying triple insurance rates because these people are 85% uninsured, I'm tired of paying for extra police because their "neighborhoods" are crime ridden and I'm tired of having to cater to their ignorance of English (Press 1 for English.....)

    I didn't bust my butt to make a nice living just to have a truck full of the little monkeys sideswipe a $78,000 convertible. Oh yeah, I got to pay for that - but they're sure just "gooooood people looooookin for work". Bull.

    Put up the fence, keep them out and shoot the ones that get over, under or around it. Problem solved. Now about that deportation order.......

  3. Tim Allen:

    Wow, FaultTolerant is apparantly not fault tolerant. Who'd-a-thunk? I have to say right now that I would hate to be the guy right behind you when you skampered into the lifeboat of the Titanic.

    I guess you might call it the "I got mine, now screw you." point of view.

  4. faultolerant:

    Tim Allen - spare me the ad hominems - they don't impress me at all. If you have a substantive argument then make it. Guess you don't tho.

    As far as the "I got mine, screw you" mentality - you're absolutely right. Hit the head right on the nail, as it were.

    Why should I give a flying rat's patoot about "those poor, poor Mexicans"? Not one argument of merit has yet to appear. Each one of us - me, you, Mexicans crossing the border - are acting in our own best interests, not in the interests of someone else. You might not like the fact that I'm not putting some half-arsed shine on my contempt for these people - at least I'm honest enough to admit it.

    I'm not gonna blow smoke about "Terrorism Security" or "Free Trade" or that Libertarian faux-argument about "borderless non-states and the promotion of anarchism". I do what's in my best interests - and a horde of unemployed, low-skilled folks crossing the border is not in my best interest.

    If you want to talk about "legality" (which Libertarians are noteworthy for being hypocrites about) then let's do so:

    Illegal Aliens break immigration law. Illegal Aliens who work in the US without necessary documentation break Labor Law. Illegal Aliens who drive in Texas without insurance break State law. Illegal Aliens who bash into the side of my convertible and fail to take financial responsibility break tort law. Lots of laws being broken - but to the Libertarian mindset it's all Okey-Dokey because "they just here looking for honest work". Rubbish.

    I told the truth: I don't give a flying damn about the whole lot of them. And if truth were told they don't give a damn about me. It's all about self interest and anyone who spouts anything else is inherently dishonest. Let's put the cards on the table, shall we?

    I did....and you don't like it...tough.

  5. MesaEconGuy:

    While it is true that terrorists were caught crossing the US/Canadian border in Washington attempting to bomb various sights in 2000, and Canadian heart-surgery patients regularly curve south, that border is more lengthy, and much of it is in a wintry, inhospitable climate, whereas the US/Mexican border can be (and has been) actively traversed year round, at great risk. Outside of June-August, the rest of the year is pretty much ridiculously easy, sans wall.

    Sorry, I don’t have numbers to corroborate this other than the massive increase of hospital patients in Maricopa County, massive increases in school costs and lawsuits against their inability to teach en espanol, the ELL decision, Richard Ruelas’ absurd columns in the AZ Republic, and lots of other negative externalities caused by enormous numbers of low-rent-seekers, and general moochers.

    Gee, maybe that’s why they’re considered “illegal” and we have laws against that sort of thing.

    By the way, the theft rates you should be looking at here are the actuary tables, and my 2001 Honda Accord rated highest insurance rate in the country, because it was worth approximately $170,000 in black-market parts in Mexico.

    This was obviously due to our inability to allow chop-shops in this country.

  6. damaged justice:

    "...enormous numbers of low-rent-seekers, and general moochers..."

    Yeah, these modern pussy so-called "Americans" piss me off with their sense of entitlement. You'd think they'd absorbed all the worst lessons from the rest of the world, or something.

    Or maybe it's just that I'm still in the socialist cesspit of Michigan. Movin' to Montana, soon.

  7. Suzie Beckwith:

    why did you guys build the wall it was sciencless

  8. eric:

    I believe americans now days feel a bit invaded, for we mexicans are now the largest minority in the country of the red whit and blue, the home of the brave..........any how we are humiliated on a daily basis by theses racist son's of bitches who have nothing better to do but to bitch about their taxes, open your eyes to see that the wall wil only piss us off more, shit do what u want, send the national guard for all i give a fuck, we will continue to come to this country and seek employment and the only thing that we want is to work, and work hard for everyone knows what type of employment we always get hired in, construction..ect...because all the fuckin lazy ass americans dont have the balls to do so, but you don have the balls to humiliate us by calling us "low skilled" low skilled my ass...we dont pay taxes , many of us now have homes in the U.S thanks to people of our own race who help each other out, property taxes, fines, taxes in stores, deducted taxes from work....and what we still dont pay taxes, as a matter of fact many of us "ignorant" mexicans dont even claim their taxes each year leaving them to the hands of the government, so such people ass joe arpaio can buy pink under wear for the coyote conclusion we one day will be the majority of this country along with all the other immigrants that are pouring into this country, we are like an "atom" the building block of the united states of america...........

  9. faultolerant:


    Interesting post. It's entirely indicative of your kind: uneducated, immoral and beneath contempt.

    Remember those "Pro-Mexican" days y'all organized. You know, the ones where lots of Latinos and other ne'er-do-wells all took the day off work to wave Mexican flags in downtown Dallas.

    Well, as a result of that particular day, I personally fired 7 Latinos for unexcused absences. If there had been more working for me I would have fired them as well. If "your people" are so damned interested in working, then why spend so much time whining and walking in the streets? Ask 7 more unemployed Mexicans.

    It was SO touching, of "your people" even cried when I told her that she could leave with her last check. So, just exactly how much did your petty whining win you?

    You go on about taxes: get over it, bud. Nobody gives a flying damn that you pay taxes. We all do. I'd be willing to bet I pay more in taxes in a month than most of "your people" earn in a year. So freakin what. All it means is that we're both getting ripped of by the government. It doesn't get you any special merit at all....move along, that argument is baseless.

    "The wall will only piss us off more". Hmmmmmm. Interesting perspective. How about being pissed off on the OTHER side of it for a change? I know I'd be happy if you went. As far as being "low skilled" - does the truth bother you? If you're doing day-labor because you're not qualified for anything else, then you ARE low-skilled. It's the definition of the term: Not qualified for anything else means you have low or no skills. That's why you're not making six-figures a year. Maybe you're also so damnably stupid you can't figure it out. Oh well, talking with "your people" is like pissing up a rope. Nothing good ever comes of it.

    Let's build that wall and shoot anyone trying to come over, under or around it. That'll put a stop to illegal immigration.