Here’s Steve Chapman on some of the scaremongering anti-immigration activists are pushing in support of Arizona’s awful new law:
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.
In 2007, scholars Ruben Rumbaut and Walter Ewing investigated the issue for the Immigration Policy Center and concluded that “if immigrants suddenly disappeared and the country became immigrant-free (and illegal-immigrant free), crime rates would likely increase.”
I wrote about the “El Paso Miracle” last year. Immigrants—yes, even illegal ones—simply aren’t prone to crime. The process selects for people who want to make a better life for themselves and their families. Not generally the sort more likely to rape and murder. The bill will also likely make actual crime worse because it will make illegals much less likely to cooperate with police.
This part is interesting, too:
Massey says the number of people coming illegally has not risen appreciably in the last couple of decades. But the number staying has climbed, because anyone who leaves faces a harder task returning.
Had the government not cracked down at the border, he says, “the undocumented population would be half what it is now.” A fence intended to keep illegal immigrants out is serving beautifully to keep them in.