Chicken Little: The Supposed Arizona Immigrant-Led Crime Wave

Conservatives often attack global warming alarmists for using individual outlier events at the tails of the normal distribution (e.g. Katrina) to fan panic about climate change.  So it is interesting to see them doing the same thing themselves on immigrants and crime in Arizona.  [sorry, forgot the link to Expresso Pundit]

Of course, the whole story fell apart when Wagner had to introduce this fact.

While smugglers have become more aggressive in their encounters with authorities, as evidenced by the shooting of a Pinal County deputy on Friday, allegedly by illegal-immigrant drug runners, they do not routinely target residents of border towns.

Sure, that's the ticket, violence hasn't increased in actual border towns...of course, roving drug smugglers just used an AK 47 to gun down a deputy in PINAL County a hundred miles north of the border.  But other than that...and the rancher they killed last month...the border towns themselves are pretty calm.

Excuse me, but has anyone on any side of the immigration debate ever claimed that immigrants have never committed a crime?  Forget for a minute that the guilty parties in these two cases are mere supposition without any charges filed yet -- particularly the case of the rancher last month.  In 2008 there were about 407 killings in the state.  So, like, one a month were maybe by immigrant gangs and this is a crisis?

From the link above, I looked up AZ and US crime states in 2000, 2005, and 2008.  I was too lazy to do every year and 2009 state stats don't appear to be online yet.  Here is the crisis in Arizona in violent crime rates:

Oh Noz, we seem not only to have drastically reduced our violent crime rate right in the teeth of this immigrant "invasion" but we also have reduced it below the US average.  This actually understates the achievement, since Arizona is more highly urbanized than the average state  (yeah, I know this is counter-intuitive, but it was true even 20 years ago and is more true today).  Urban areas have higher crime rates than rural areas, particularly in property crime as below:

So our property crime rate is high, but not totally out of line from other highly urban areas.  But the real key here is that during this supposed immigrant invasion, again Arizona has improved faster than the national average.  This is seen more clearly when we index both lines to 2000.

One may wonder why climate change alarmists only wave around anecdotes rather than averages.  If we really are seeing more drought or floods, show us the averages.  The problem is that their story can't be seen in the averages, so they are forced to rely on anecdotes to inflame the population.   The same appears to be true of our Arizona immigration panic.

Update: Some doubts emerge about Pinal County deputy shooting update: or perhaps not


  1. Dan:

    Great job! The graphs speak very well for themselves.

  2. ElamBend:

    Chicago alone had 510 murders last year.

  3. m:

    Listen, the last thing we need in tough economic times is outsourcing. If anybody's going to murder our deputies and farmers in cold blood, it's going to be American killers. We don't need no dang foreigners coming in and doing it for us!

  4. RJP:

    What would the various AZ crime rates be if the crimes committed by illegal immigrants were taken out?

    I notice Warren is allergic to the word 'illegal'. In his world there are only 'immigrants', never an 'illegal immigrant'.


  5. ADiff:

    Drug smuggling related crime doesn't appear particularly related to immigration in general. We have issues with border related criminal activity (i.e. drug smuggling, and to a lesser degree, immigrant summugling), but these are smuggling issues, and not reflections of immigration itself.

    Connecting them is just another part of the encoded racial & ethnic context targeted by those attempting to make immigration itself seem like a crisis of some kind. It is....but only for persons who object to any increase in the number of Latinos in our population, per se, or evidence of any Latino aspects in our culture. Immigrants, legal or otherwise, in general, just aren't a 'crime' issue.

    Border security and the drug trade are.

    Confusing the two only makes them far harder to solve.

  6. RJP:

    "Through other violations of our immigration laws, Mexican drug cartels are able to extend their command and control into the United States. Drug smuggling fosters, subsidizes, and is dependent upon continued illegal immigration and alien smuggling." (

    "Maricopa County, Arizona District Attorney's office released crime statistics. Overall, while illegals represent only nine percent of the population in Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix) they are responsible for approximately 22% of the crimes committed. Here is a breakdown of statistics by crime category. [In 2007] (i)llegal aliens account[ed] for":

    33.5% of those sentenced for manufacture, sale or transport of drugs.
    35.8% of those sentenced for kidnapping.
    20.3% of those sentenced for felony DUI.
    16.5% of those sentenced for violent crimes.
    18.5% of those sentenced for property crimes.
    44% of those sentenced for forgery and fraud.
    85.3% of those convicted of criminal impersonation or false ID.
    96% of those convicted of human smuggling.

    Sorry, the links to the original document don't work so it's possible someone just made up those statistics. But since ADiff can pull his conjectures and conclusions out of thin air, that shouldn't be a problem.


  7. Dale:

    HAs anyone on the pro-immigration side ever claimed?
    See point 1on your May 1 entry on Arapaio.

  8. astonerii:

    1 single crime by an illegal alien no matter how trivial it is is one more crime that never should have occurred. That is all there is to this argument. It does not matter if they cause less crime than natural born citizens, the fact that they do criminal offenses at any degree against American Citizens and America's invited guests is enough to prove that they are simply not wanted here. The great libertarian does not get the idea that the absolute most required law is the law that there are boundaries for which free peoples create in order to construct a place from which libertarians can even hope to live.

    A world without borders is a world in which those with the biggest guns and the most hate rules, you want to prove otherwise, like I said in another post, get a bunch of libertarians together, go buy or take over some small landmass, what ever you think you can, and then declare your new country to be border free. Go ahead, I dare you. Until then, as far as I am concerned and every other human on the planet is concerned the whole notion of a world without borders has already been tried in the roman era, and that did not turn out so well for very many people who just wanted to live unmolested and uncontrolled by an authoritarian government, no matter how democratic the skin of it seemed. I know for a fact that none of the loser illegal aliens who come to this country would be happy if we started importing in large quantities Chinese to do the work that 'American's won't do' to prevent illegal Hispanics from having those job opportunities.

  9. pino:

    So it is interesting to see them doing the same thing themselves on immigrants and crime in Arizona.

    I get the relationship you are trying to make; immigration up and crime down. It would be interesting to see the break-out of those crimes by legal status.

    The bigger point that anti-illegal immigration folks should be making is the cost on the system. Including crime, or besides crime, what is the burden being placed on the State of Arizona by undocumented workers?

    And the largest point to be made? The idea of an arbitrary boundary created by people is not a strong argument to keep nearly all people who wanna cross out. I acknowledge terrorism, criminal status of the host country and perhaps infectious disease concerns. But beyond that, why keep people who wanna come here out?

    I ask my conservative friends to close their eyes and describe the "perfect American".

    1. Hard working.
    2. Strong faith in God.
    3. Loves their family.
    4. Strong member of their community.

    I then ask them how those qualities are different than 95% of the Latino immigrants coming across the border?

  10. Dr. T:

    The crime rate graphs are misleading. I'll focus on the violent crimes graph. During the time period shown (2000-2008), the population of Arizona increased by 25%, mostly due to an influx of people moving from northern states. The majority of the 1.4 million new Arizonans are retirees who commit almost no violent crimes. During that same time period, the numbers of illegal immigrants increased by an unknown amount, and the numbers of violent crimes due to the bad elements among those illegal immigrants also increased. The overall violent crime rate went down, not because illegal immigrants are especially law-abiding, but because the total population rose so quickly. The absolute numbers of violent crimes in Arizona were 27,300 in 2000 and 28,800 in 2008, an increase of 5.5%.

    These numbers explain why most Arizona law enforcement agencies say that violent crimes are increasing: in absolute numbers they are. The police (and most law-abiding Arizonans) care more about the total numbers of crimes than the crime rates. They won't feel safer if another one million retirees move to Arizona, and the crime rates fall 16% but the numbers of crimes per year is unchanged.

  11. SecondGuesser:

    At the core, Coyote, you are arguing against the enforcement of an existing law. There are many other laws that come before immigration on the list of ones that shouldn't be enforced.

    Climate is not a mandate of the government. Protecting borders is. Its that simple.

  12. ZZMike:

    Looking at your graphs, it seems to me that you're making the case that Arizona is doing just fine, and no new laws are needed.

    "In 2008 there were about 407 killings in the state."
    But they left out kidnapping. Phoenix is the kidnap capital of the country:
    "Last year (2007) alone, Phoenix police reported 357 extortion-related abductions -- up by nearly half from 2005 -- targeting individuals with ties to Mexican smuggling rings."

    That's just under 1 a day. Maybe they take Christmas and Easter off.

  13. RJP:

    New Times has doubts about the sheriff's department? Wow! That is update-worthy news!



  14. Meez:

    Just a side note...those who think that the 'illegal immigrants' are committing crimes all by themselves, and if they are all deported or ran off then the crime rate would go down accordingly, are sadly mistaken. US citizens are participating in the activities, aiding, abetting, profiting. I have a hunch that the crime rate in Arizona would actually go up if there were no 'illegals' to blame things on, because one illegal drug smuggler probably takes the fall for 20 US citizens participating in the smuggling rings. Like I said, just something to think about when placing blame and (hopefully) trying to find a legitimate solution to a verified problem.

  15. ADiff:

    Interesting numbers: "illegals represent only nine percent of the population in Maricopa County".

    That's some nice SWAG.

    The pattern in your statistics is telling. Entirely discounting the categories associated with illegal status alone (the last two, and to some degree the prior), we see that persons in the country illegally appear disproportionately involved in kidnapping and drug smuggling. Duh! That's part of the point of my comments. Most of these folks aren't immigrants at all...they're just here on business, and aren't staying. That's not an immigration issue, it's a border security and drug trade issue. And it won't be addressed or impacted in any way by SB2070. If anything the new law will actually make addressing it harder, by pretty much drying up any source of information to law enforcement.

    You're stretching too far trying to make your point, and end up making mine for me.

  16. RJP:


    "Most of these folks aren’t immigrants at all…they’re just here on business, and aren’t staying." Sounds like a SWAG to me. Any links? BTW, after they're sentenced, I think they're staying, at least for a while. :-)

    In any case, now that SB1070 has made, according to its opponents, walking while brown a deportable offense, don't you think that some of those who might have come across the border to do their 'business' would now stay on the other side?


  17. ADiff:

    Those coming across to smuggle drugs don't care about SB1070 one bit, and in fact will probably figure out some way to use it to their advantage. Ditto for those smuggling undocumented workers to employers in the United States. It'll work to the disadvantage of illegal immigrants trying to come here to actually work, and discourage some from staying in Arizona, which will work to the disadvantage of our private economy, although it will help to reduce to some degree demands on our social service system. SB1070 won't really have much impact on illegal immigration overall, but will tend to drive it more underground and make undocumented workers available to a more limited (and more concentrated) group of employers. The police might be able to use it as another vehicle to detain some persons, for whatever reason they see fit, but I doubt they're particularly interested in enforcement per se, seeing there's almost no way they can without significant risk to themselves (I mean, if you're explicitly forbidden to use race or ethnicity to suspect illegal status what are you going to use? ....that Front Chi license plate? It's just unenforceable except the same as the ICE detention/arrest screening already in its effect is null, it pretty much does nothing except what's already in place). And it absolutely will completely dry up their sources in the undocumented community, and seriously damage their credit with Latino legal residents and citizens. To a large degree it's all a farce, but the impact's very real! With Residency for Services and detention screening we already have pretty much everything required in place. Now if the workplace documentation laws are also enforced, that would about do the trick.....but (and this is the BIG but...) nothing works unless the border can be secured....and I have yet to hear any really clear proposal from anyone in the political arena that seems likely to do that. That's the big problem. It's not just a matter of closing it...but even that would be better than this!

    SB1070 is primarily just a symbolic exercise, and almost every Latino AMERICAN I know, most of whom have been U.S. citizens for generations, view it as an insult, a potential threat to their civil rights, and an exercise in's THAT perception that people concerned about illegal immigration need to deal with if they really expect to effectively work to address the problem...until then they're just adding to the problems. Hell, my family's been in the United States longer than there's BEEN a United States, and I see it as to a large degree just a symbolic exercise in pure racism, with the anti-immigration folks who's problem isn't with illegal immigrants but with any cultural or racial identification that doesn't meet their idea of what's 'American' effectively 'using' a lot of folk's well-intentioned concern about illegal immigration, economic insecurity and cultural change, to make a symbolic 'Anti-Latino' statement... Oh well, it's certainly nothing new, that's for sure.

  18. RJP:

    If one is "explicitly forbidden to use race or ethnicity to suspect illegal status", how is SB1070 an "exercise in pure racism"? Who exactly is pushing the "perception" that SB1070 is an "insult"?

    What proof do you have that the authors of the bill, you who accuse of having a problem "any cultural or racial identification that doesn’t meet their idea of what’s ‘American’", actually have that problem?

    Of course, enforcing workplace documentation laws would be great, but then the pro-illegal immigration bunch gets very upset if, while trying to enforce those laws, a seemingly innocent person gets inconvenienced for a while. Perfection is the only acceptable criteria. And, since nothing is perfect, nothing is acceptable.


  19. Patrick:

    Lower crime from 2000 to 2008? Bush's fault.

  20. Patrick:

    "The crime rate graphs are misleading. I’ll focus on the violent crimes graph. During the time period shown (2000-2008), the population of Arizona increased by 25%, mostly due to an influx of people moving from northern states. The majority of the 1.4 million new Arizonans are retirees who commit almost no violent crimes."

    Another chart needed - the ratio of males aged 15-25 to the total population.

    I'll repeat a point made when he previously claimed immigration=lower crime.
    Overall crime rates have fallen in past 20 years – fewer young people, less mindless putting criminals on the streets like they did in 60s and 70s, concealed carry, etc. Trends unrelated to immigration.

    Warren needs to put the hobby-horse of open-borders-are-okay for a moment and do the statistical digging on why crime is trending the way it is. One of the interesting things he will find, for example, is that legal immigrants do have low rates of crime, but the children of immigrants have a higher rate of crime. The OTHER point, as made above, is that we do have disproportionate numbers of illegal immigrants in our jails. Why? The answer is obvious. LEGAL immigrants NEED a clean record. Illegal aliens are by definition breaking the law. Someone coming here to do something nefarious - heck, its just another law to break for them, and not enforced one either.

    Bottom line: An honest reading of the statistics will lead one to the conclusion that legal immigration is okay, but illegal border-crossing and failure to deport criminal illegal aliens is bad for the safety of our communities.