Immigration and Crime

From Steve Chapman:

It's no surprise that Arizonans resent the recent influx of unauthorized foreigners, some of them criminals. But there is less here than meets the eye.

The state has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants. But contrary to myth, they have not brought an epidemic of murder and mayhem with them. Surprise of surprises, the state has gotten safer.

Over the last decade, the violent crime rate has dropped by 19 percent, while property crime is down by 20 percent. Crime has also declined in the rest of the country, but not as fast as in Arizona.

Babeu's claim about police killings came as news to me. When I called his office to get a list of victims, I learned there has been only one since the beginning of 2008"”deeply regrettable, but not exactly a trend.

Truth is, illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native Americans. Most come here to work, and in their desire to stay, they are generally afraid to do anything that might draw the attention of armed people wearing badges.

El Paso, Texas, is next door to the exceptionally violent Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and easily accessible to illegal entry. Yet it is one of the safest cities in the United States.


  1. Henry Bowman:

    Well, I'm certainly prepared to believe that illegal immigrants commit fewer violent crimes that others. However, Chapman's piece really provides no credible evidence that such is the case. It's simply hard to attribute crimes rates to one specific reason, as there are too many other factors that are usually changing at the same time.

    The fundamental problem with illegal immigration, of course, is the existence of the U.S. welfare state. What to do about that, realistically? I certainly do not know.

  2. Jason Woertink:

    What about unreported crime? I would imagine that illegal immigrants might be less likely to report crimes in their communities due to distrust of the police.

  3. boqueronman:

    From a 2005 GAO report:

    "At the federal level, the number of criminal aliens incarcerated increased from about 42,000 at the end of calendar year 2001 to about 49,000 at the end of calendar year 2004--a 15 percent increase. The percentage of all federal prisoners who are criminal aliens has remained the same over the last 3 years--about 27 percent. The majority of criminal aliens incarcerated at the end of calendar year 2004 were identified as citizens of Mexico. We estimate the federal cost of incarcerating criminal aliens--BOP's cost to incarcerate criminals and reimbursements to state and local governments under SCAAP--totaled approximately $5.8 billion for calendar years 2001 through 2004. BOP's cost to incarcerate criminal aliens rose from about $950 million in 2001 to about $1.2 billion in 2004--a 14 percent increase."

    From another 2005 GAO report, the researchers studied 55,322 illegal aliens incarcerated in federal, state, and local facilities during 2003. The findings included:

    Of the 55,322 illegal aliens studied, researchers found that they were arrested a total of 459,614 times, averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien.

    They were arrested for a total of about 700,000 criminal offenses, averaging about 13 offenses per illegal alien.

    49% had previously been convicted of a felony, 20% of a drug offense; 18% a violent offense, and 11%, other felony offenses.

    56% of those charged with a reentry offense had previously been convicted on at least 5 prior occasions.

    Defendants charged with unlawful reentry had the most extensive criminal histories. 90% had been previously arrested. Of those with a prior arrest, 50% had been arrested for violent or drug-related felonies.

    If you multiply the number of illegal immigrants incarcerated at this time, and assume that the sample was relatively representative, by the number of crimes each perpetrates on average, the total is approximately 1.3 million crimes.

    The above analysis is not meant to support any specific new "anti-immigration" law. It is meant to illustrate that illegal immigration does bring with it real and consequential law breaking (the states with the highest crime rates largely comprise all the states on the land/water southern border, including Arizona) and real victims.

    Elements of the Libertarian ideology are compelling. But let me ask two question: if the government is not constituted largely to protect the life and property of its citizens, repeat citizens, to freely conduct their affairs (and I would include the Rule of Law in this), then what purpose does it have? And, are some laws to be enforced and others - those applying to qualifications for the entry of goods and people within the internationally recognized borders of the U.S. of A. - to be ignored?

    Just sayin'.

  4. astonerii:

    Illegal aliens cause far more harm than the simple crimes they commit.

    They strain our education system with children that do not speak English. Overwhelm teachers with extra needs of English as a second language classes. The lack of tax support through property taxes as 16 to 50 illegals occupy 2 and 3 bedroom apartments instead of the typical 2 to 6 occupants for this level of living. The destruction of real property values as they are transient and rarely think about leaving the places they occupy in the same or better condition than they found them.

    They tear at our nations fabric of being a melting pot by not learning to be Americans and demand that we change our culture to fit them. English as a second language education classes. Press 1 for English. Government documents in multiple languages. Multiculturalism in general is a destructive force all its own, and illegal immigrants have far less reason to become culturally like Americans in general.

    They destroy our health care system by over use with little if any payment into the system. Hospitals have closed their doors or shut out all indigents because the number of illegals partaking in the free care they offer drove them to insolvency.

    They strain the welfare state and any credibility the government has for offering welfare. American citizens are not happy to fund freebies to illegal aliens.

    They drive the price of manual labor jobs down such that American citizens are working for far less than they otherwise would be or are completely without work, in this situation it may increase crime rates amongst those effected negatively. This causes many problems: Keeps businesses that are inefficient from going bankrupt or improving, allows employers to treat workers in a much less beneficial way as the labor is transient and cheap to replace (dehumanizes workers), Makes it difficult if not impossible for a hard worker to make a living for themselves let alone a family.

    Overall, illegal aliens need to leave this country, and at that point in time I would willing to review options for an orderly increase in the number of legal aliens entering this country. Illegal aliens are a destructive force for this nation and any other nation. You can use all the statistical BS you want to try and convince others, but I cannot be convinced of the impossible idea that allowing any and every person who wants to transiently cross the borders of countries any which way the wind blows is ever good for anyone other than those who exploit them and themselves. Are you an illegal alien or do you exploit them in your business would have to be my question.

  5. Tim:

    @boqueronman: Your first question makes an improper assumption: Governments are constituted to protect the life, liberty, and persuit of happiness of all people -- not citizens. Property rights flow from these other rights.

    "That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed...."

    And obvious answer to your second question flows from the first: Any law that conficts the true purpose of government should be abolished; including qualifications for entry of both goods and people. You manage the US welfare state by either allowing only citizens to claim benefits, which would be good; or eliminating it to as complete an extent as possible, which would be better....

  6. David:

    How do you propose to abolish said laws if a majority of the population is in favor of them? Further, how do you propose to move in the direction of abolition of said laws if you are allowing the illegal immigration of populations that disproportionately favor them at the polls?
    The problem with most libertarians is they have no concept of the need to defend themselves electorally and even less of the fact that their views have very little traction outside the Anglo and Germanic set.

  7. Bob Smith:

    Even if they commit zero crime, so what? This country is my house, and they're uninvited guests. Throw them out. If you want to live in my house, ask me. I might say yes. On the other hand, don't ask I will always say no.

    As David notes, the real problem with free immigration is (a) the immigrants destroying your political culture by outvoting you, and (b) the immigrants conquering you by violence or threats of it. Could a La Raza led takeover of Arizona, which they have publicly said they desire, and de facto annexation to Mexico be stopped? How about if Mexican illegals simply riot until we pay them off? We'd capitulate in our current cultural state. We also see violence or threats thereof across Europe, forcing the Europeans (because like us they won't defend their own culture) to subordinate themselves to Muslim cultural dictates. Either way you are culturally doomed. Race doesn't matter, but culture is everything.

  8. Gil:

    "El Paso, Texas, is next door to the exceptionally violent Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and easily accessible to illegal entry. Yet it is one of the safest cities in the United States."

    Aw come on, admit it - Texas is one of the safest places in the U.S. due its open attitude towards gun ownership.

    "Yeeeee! Hawwww!" *BLAM!* *BLAM!* *BLAM!*

  9. sethstorm:

    ...illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native Americans. Most come here to work, and in their desire to stay, they are generally afraid to do anything that might draw the attention of armed people wearing badges.

    Look at other localities that have them and aren't as gun-friendly. Then wonder how they're filled with illegal-derived crimes that didn't exist before their presence.

    I would not hesitate to report those folk to the INS, as they increase crime. The guilty parties are both the illegal that refuses to use the proper entrance and the businessman whom wants to circumvent market forces by using illegal labor.

    Aw come on, admit it – Texas is one of the safest places in the U.S. due its open attitude towards gun ownership.

    “Yeeeee! Hawwww!” *BLAM!* *BLAM!* *BLAM!*

    That, and there's a provision that allows for deadly force against strangers invading on property.

  10. Tim:

    @Dave: Well, citizenship does still have some meaning. Clearly non-citizen immigrants do not receive the right to vote; which solves that problem.

    As for the looming welfare state that our current president is constructing; patience. Stein's law will eventually bear out.

  11. Che is dead:

    Governments are constituted to protect the life, liberty, and persuit of happiness of all people — not citizens.

    Really? Then I say we draft your ass and send you over to enforce that doctrine in North Korea, for starters. If you survive that, we've got other assignments.

  12. mahtso:

    From today’s online Arizona Republic:

    “About 300 employees at Pro's Ranch Markets' six [Phoenix area] supermarkets were let go Tuesday and Wednesday after an initial Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency audit found them to be working illegally in the United States. **** Julie Pace, an attorney for Pro's Ranch Markets, said most of the affected workers gave the company forged documents when asked to demonstrate their eligibility to work in the United States.”

    I am willing to speculate that illegal immigrants are responsible for a disproportionate share of crimes involving forged documents or identity theft.

  13. David:

    Recent history shows that if not removed, an amnesty bill or executive order is just a matter of time---maybe even prior to 2012. Also, their kids are currently deemed US citizens. In addition, illegals count in the US census for representation, making many left-wing districts the modern equivalent of rotten boroughs. A close examination of 3rd and 4th generation Hispanic/Latino outcomes and underachievement should be sufficient to make you understand that this group will always have an incentive to push for affirmative action in its favor.

  14. TheRev:

    What is going to be interesting in the next few years is to watch the US Federal government scramble and open up the borders as well as state governments begin to compete for these "illegal" immigrants to live in their states. You will see even more heated political debate for show to the working and middle classes. You will see this "criminal" rhetoric go out the window as it will be deemed politically incorrect. The racism will perpetuate as some of the comments above show and this is needed to keep the masses pitted against each other and to give politicians a job, but the reality is we/you will need these immigrants.

    Your government officials have squandered away Social Security and have to answer to a very large and powerful (in terms of voting) aging baby boomer generation as to where the money went. What will happen is that the issue will most likely get swept under the rug and illegal immigrants will be welcome with open arms to pay monies into the squandered Social Security System. The US will need this new blood to fuel both Social Security and service sector jobs. The politicians will pat themselves on the back and say job well done and the depletion of monies is staved off until another day only to fall on future generations. No I'm not cynical, just an x-generation baby watching the boomers selfishly dump more debt on future generations.

    Mark my words - Arizona and surrounding states will be the first to bow down since they have many retirement communities and boomers flooding to their states. They will need someone to wipe their arses.

  15. TheRev:

    Oh and one other thing - posts by folks like astonerii do nothing more than perpetuate racism, hostility, and a myth that taxes are not paid by illegal immigrants. Many illegals do pay taxes and most all work and contribute to the economy by spending buying goods - which are taxed. The problem is not with the illegals - it is those US citizens that hire them and do not report it or take taxes out on the illegals they hire.

    It is a myth that "they" drive the price of manual labor jobs down and are a drain on the welfare system- this is why minimum wage is set and it also reverts back to US employers and illegal hiring activities. I am a Probation Officer and 60 percent of my offenders are drug addicts not willing to get a job, not willing to pay taxes on the drugs they sell, have babies and collect welfare, and stealing anything that is not tied down to support their habit. These are US citizens who do cause a drain on the welfare system as well as US employers hiring these individuals "under the table" and not paying taxes.

    I have some illegals on my case load. Mostly DWI cases (a cultural thing), they are hard working respectful tax paying individuals that do not fit into the stereotype that is perpetuated by some of the posts above. If I find they are paid "under the table" I immediately report the employers to the IRS. These illegals also are willing to take menial and dangerous jobs that no one else wants to do.

    There are a few illegals in my area that commit serious crimes who are sent to prison. Ice takes them from prison and drops them off back across the border. This is rare in my area, but these are the folks that perpetuate the negative stereotypes for the hard working illegals.

  16. zero wolf:

    yeah, good luck telling the family members of someone killed by an illegal drunk driver that it's ok, 'cause it's merely "a cultural thing", there, rev. and should they be stymied in a quest for justice for their (dead) loved one, because el senor mojado has skipped gaily back mayheeco - also a cultural thing, apparently - you can tell them its ok, because to be angered in any way by that would know...."racist". and "hostile".

    as far as your equally BS pontification that it's a "myth" that illegals drive wages down, ask someone from a border city - el paso, say - about how well jobs pay there. mark MY words, amigo: the mexicans need US a hell of a lot more than we need THEM, even if it's just to "wipe arses".

  17. David:

    Given that the U6 unemployment rate is well over 15%, and lots of people have been out of work for over a year---Congress keeps extending unemployment benefits, precisely WHY do we need to import more workers? Also, do you REALLY believe that the hispanic community has ANY interest in subsidizing the retirements of a bunch of white AARP members? Unlike most white people, hispanics have no compunctions about voting for their group interest and aren't intimidated by inane or veiled accusations of racism like yours. Lastly, do you think that the political climate will be better or worse for you and yours when you cease to have demographic hegemony? Do you really believe that things like AA will go away when whites cease to be a majority? Worldwide, constructs like AA are used far more frequently to discriminate against a market dominant minority than they are used to attempt to help underachieving minority groups.

  18. Xmas:

    I was under the impression that the situation on the border has suddenly taken a turn for the worse. Or...was it just one rancher shot on his own property?

  19. Tim:

    @Che is Dead Really? Then I say we draft your ass and send you over to enforce [government protecting all people, not just citizens] in North Korea, for starters....

    CiD, where did I say that the government, or any government; has an extra-border obligation to enforce it's proper role? I didn't; but that's a nice strawman you knocked down there.

    @David. Once again, I'm thinking there's a simpler solution to the problem. As the census role is to apportion the House; simply count citizens for that purpose. I'm also not buying the third/fourth generation argument, either; because I suspect that a large contributing factor to that is the root generation not being able to establish themselves for fear of deportation.

    My basic argument here is pretty simple. We need to end illegal immigration by lowering the barriers to entry of people who seek to enter and work; while keeping the barriers to citizenship at about what they are now, and managing the social program cost by doing away with those programs.

  20. David:

    Whether you want to count noncitizens or not is irrelevant. The census counts residents, and makes a particular effort to count illegal ones. You're not going to win that battle against an entrenched bureaucracy, and the plain wording of the US constitution (apportionment by residents, NOT be eligible voters) is working against you. Considering that throughout most of US history, the number of eligible voters was significantly different from the number of residents, it makes sense in any case (property ownership used to be a common requirement for suffrage).
    I think you're in denial regarding the 3rd and 4th generations. But I'll make you an offer---I'll consider your position if you do the following experiment. Eliminate all preferences, AA, and other special treatment (e.g. SBA loans and the like) for the Hispanic/Latino class and we'll look at the outcomes again in another generation. I will agree that if we didn't have AA and its various derivatives or a welfare state, we'd have considerably greater assimilation power. But try getting rid of those while simulataneously increasing the number of the beneficiaries of them---it just doesn't work.

  21. gadfly:

    TheRev said: "I have some illegals on my case load. Mostly DWI cases (a cultural thing)..."

    So Rev, have you reported these illegals to the authorities? If not, you are breaking the Federal law and you are a criminal. Its called "aiding and abetting", I believe.

  22. Dennis:

    I'm an Arizona prosecutor. I see a higly disproportionate number of illegals distributing drugs in the community where I work (not the Phoenix area). I had four cases in court today (out of 12) that were illegals, plus another two caught transporting cocaine that will soon be in court. That doesn't even address the more violent crimes that we see committed by gang members who are or recruit illegals. Sometimes there is a reason you don't see statistics showing more illegals committing crime; ICE refuses to come investigate. We have twice as many illegals admit being here illegally than we have proof through an immigration check. Those people do not show up in the statistics.

  23. mbts-mbtshoes:

    I have some illegals on my case load. Mostly DWI cases

  24. ParatrooperJJ:

    You are aware that our healthcare system is collapsing in part to illegals using it and not paying for anything right?