Immigration and Crime

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

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.

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75 Responses to “Immigration and Crime”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    immigration laws have always been about racism and anectodal evidence- reason never seems to be a part of the debate.

  2. #2 |  Price | 

    Not prone to crime…..I thought coming into the country illegally was a crime.

  3. #3 |  Nando | 

    Ok, so it looks like we should be deporting American citizens if we want to make this country safer.

  4. #4 |  Elliot | 

    As a libertarian, I’m for open borders. I don’t think anyone who wants to move here and do honest, hard work should be punished for what other people may do. I also oppose the War on Drugs, without which there would be no economic incentives behind the worst of the violence in Mexico and here (from the drug lords down to the junkies who mug and burglarize). End drug prohibition and farmers and manufacturers in the US could totally undercut the drug lords. And, we wouldn’t be bilked for billions to spend on enforcement–enforcement which involves constant violations of the rights of people, including those who are not involved with drugs at all.

    For those who think that people will come here for welfare handouts and medical services at the expense of taxpayers, I’d suggest that we stop such programs for immigrants and people born here. I don’t believe that immigrants are more prone to exploit taxpayers anyway and suspect that they are actually less prone to do so.

    I grew up in San Antonio, which is majority Hispanic. I knew plenty of people who had Mexican ancestry of varying numbers of generations in the US, including some migrant workers who spoke but a few words of English, with whom I worked side by side in summer jobs.

    My experience has always been that the vast majority of recent arrivals were hard workers and that the kids and young adults who were most prone to criminal activity were born here (which was true for people of all races and seemed to have more to do with socioeconomic status).

  5. #5 |  Chuchundra | 

    Sounds good to me, Nando. I’ll draw up a list.

    Seriously, the immigration debate in this country in driven by racism and xenophobia.

    These poor sons of bitches risk their lives crossing the Arizona desert for the chance to pick our fruit and clean our toilets so they can make a better life for their children. Isn’t that what America is all about? How is that any different than what my great grandparents did except that they rode steerage across the Atlantic Ocean and docked at Ellis Island?

    From a more practical point of view, illegal immigration is like drug smuggling. You can’t solve it from the supply side. As long as there’s demand for their labor, these people will keep coming. The only real solution is to allow more legal immigration while cracking down on employers who employ undocumented workers.

  6. #6 |  shecky | 

    The refusal to distinguish between crimes against person and property, an crimes against government status, are what separates libertarians from authoritarians.

    Living in the country illegally is a crime that’s easily solved. Make it legal. It always amazes me how self proclaimed small government conservatives/libertarians will advocate criminalization of things that cause no harm to person or property.

  7. #7 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Not prone to crime…..I thought coming into the country illegally was a crime.

    For those of you who dismiss the above comment, I think there’s actually a good point there. I posted the Chapman article on Facebook a few days ago and a friend of mine (a legal immigrant from Brazil) noted that he finds it incredibly unfair that he had to jump through all sorts of bureaucratic hoops and red tape (a frustration any libertarian can sympathize with) while others skip the process all together. It IS unfair to punish those who play by the rules, and certainly looking the other way while people break federal laws isn’t good for fostering respect for the law. The thing is, while anti-immigrant groups use that as an argument for a more restrictive immigration policy, it’s just as easily an argument for the opposite. What better way to make things fair for illegal immigrants than removing that bureaucratic red tape all together?

  8. #8 |  ClassAction | 

    #7

    I agree with your immigrant friend. It is totally unfair that he was victimized by an unjust, restrictive, and immensely complicated immigration system, and others are not (although other are clearly victimized in other ways by their failure to go through that same process). However, the unfairness lies in the fact that legal immigrants are victimized in the first place, not that other people manage to avoid similar treatment.

  9. #9 |  ClubMedSux | 

    ClassAction- I completely agree and was confused by your response until I re-read my post and discovered a significant typo in my last sentence. It should have read: “What better way to make things fair for LEGAL immigrants than removing that bureaucratic red tape all together?” Hopefully it makes more sense now.

  10. #10 |  James D | 

    I don’t know where you/they get these numbers Radley … there are all other sorts of statistics that say you are WAY off. Those numbers are way too low on both the number of illegals AND the percentages of crime they commit …. try more like 50%+ of the crime in AZ according to some statistics. Ask a local cop in AZ.

    And you keep talking about El Paso …. have you ever been there? The place is a shithole where you might not get killed, but you are easily drug across the border into Juarez where the death and crime rate is one of the worst in the western hemisphere …. I guess it all comes down to whose statistics you choose to believe.

    People can rail and cry about Arizona’s new law, but guess what? The whole thing is completely redundant to federal law and is only in place BECAUSE the federal government isn’t actually enforcing the law they have on their books … so AZ, and I’m sure a few other states, have said “ENOUGH”.

    Go ahead and anti-karma me to death … it doesn’t make me wrong. And the ‘it’s racist’ argument is just having no facts to stand on and trying to shame the opposition into silence … the whole issue has to do with the sovereignty of a country, not racism (try reading Mexico’s immigration law for example).

  11. #11 |  Robert | 

    So, You write one post that cites statistics that crime is going down, but then you write a earlier post that says police officials have been cooking the books to show reduced crime rates. Which is it?

  12. #12 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    looking the other way while people break federal laws isn’t good for fostering respect for the law

    Respect is something that is earned, not owed.

  13. #13 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Respect is something that is earned, not owed.

    Again, I completely agree, and my point is that it’s much easier to earn respect for the law when said laws are 1.) fair, 2.) understandable and 3.) enforceable. If the federal criminal code were reduced to 100 pages instead of 1,885 (and state and local governments did likewise) I think you’d see much greater respect for the law in this country.

  14. #14 |  Roy | 

    “How is that any different than what my great grandparents did…”

    The difference is, steerage or not, your grandparents came here “legally”.

  15. #15 |  Zargon | 

    #10
    I don’t know where you/they get these numbers Radley … there are all other sorts of statistics that say you are WAY off.

    I don’t know where you got your numbers, but my statistics show that 94.4% of all crime in AZ is committed by illegal mutant alien penguins, and additionally, that 81% of those illegal mutant alien penguins worship Satan.

    Just because I’m making shit up doesn’t make me wrong. Any facts you think you have (but failed to cite) are invalidated by the fact that the IMAPs have very good disguises.

  16. #16 |  Nick | 

    There was an article in last months The American Conservative titled His-Panic – Talk TV sensationalists and axe-grinding ideologues have fallen for a myth of immigrant lawlessness. For anyone not familiar, TAC was created by Pat Buchanan.

    The only borders that can be morally justified are borders created by property rights.

  17. #17 |  Mattocracy | 

    We point fingers at Arizona all day long, but our Federal Government’s failure to address immigration is the reason why Arizona decided to take measures in the ir own hands. The law draconian becuase that’s what happens when people become angry and frustrated.

    I’m not advocating militarizing the border or building a wall. But a demand for cheap labor exists and our gov’t has never helped supply meet demand as the market dictated. Had they, we would still have as many hispanics but they would be legal, better screened, and more apt to paying taxes and assimilating. I know that isn’t a purist libertarian position of open borders, but it’s better than what we got.

  18. #18 |  scott in phx az | 

    1st, I’m a 54 y/o NATIVE of Arizona, so I have some knowledge of what it is like in Phoenix (ie I see the near daily reports of criminal problems surrounding illegal immigration),

    2nd I OPPOSE “the butcher of Maricopa County” (aka Sherrif Joe),

    and, I have the utmost sympathy for any people wanting to make a better life for themselves,

    but, the Federal Gov’t is not enforcing the SAME laws on the Federal books, so our law (which about 70% of us in AZ approve of) is just an attempt to do what the Fed gov’t has refused to do – deal with the problems of illegal immigration.

    I wish it wasn’t necessary but I think the law is an appropriate.

    And before everyone starts dumping on us, remember how Mexico treats the illegal immigrants it encounters -http://michellemalkin.com/2010/04/28/police-state-how-mexico-treats-illegal-aliens/

  19. #19 |  scott in phx az | 

    ps – My wife, who is Hispanic also supports the law.

  20. #20 |  PW | 

    As a libertarian, I agree with the principle that persons should be able to move freely, including across borders. But I also believe that it is an intellectually lazy position to end the discussion at that point alone, and to pretend as a result that the immigration issue in this country is as simple as opening up the borders. There are two significant complications that must be addressed first:

    1. Open immigration, as desirable as it may be in its own right, is fundamentally incompatible with the modern welfare state that we undeniably have in this country. Please note my objection here is NOT over any misplaced claim that immigrants utilize the welfare state more than the rest of the country as they don’t. It is that the welfare state exists at all, and so long as it exists it will tend to attract participants both domestically and from abroad where similar handout policies do not exist. Insofar as recipients from abroad go, they do impose significant costs onto that system not by immigration per se but by rapid and usually concentrated population growth that almost immediately equals higher costs on public healthcare and public schools, but also simple infrastructure, roads, police and firefighters, and all the other costs associated with a large influx of people into a concentrated area. This is immediately a problem for local taxpayers as they bear the burden of these costs, while the economic benefits of immigration – usually realized in lower prices – are diffused across the entire economy. Put another way, consumers in both southern California and Maine benefit from cheaper crops due to immigrant farm labor. But the taxpayers of Maine don’t have to pay for their healthcare or their children’s education.

    2. Open immigration is also fundamentally incompatible with an electoral system wherein the governing party has a conscious and intentional policy of politically segregating and exploiting the immigrant group on racial and class lines for the purpose of sustaining and expanding its own governing stake in the welfare state. The Democratic Party of the United States currently has such a policy with regard to Hispanic immigrants and their descendants. It is also part of a long term strategy to make those immigrants and their descendants dependent upon the welfare state, and to exploit them collectively for votes and political support in much the same way that, sadly, they have achieved nearly 95% of the Black vote, which they exploit for similar purposes.

    So long as either of these conditions exist, an open immigration policy will only cultivate a lengthy war of attrition against a vast, expansive, costly, increasingly intrusive, and permanent welfare state, which actively and aggressively recruits Hispanic populations to partake in its programs and which utilizes the same participation as a source of its own political continuation.

  21. #21 |  shecky | 

    scott in phx az:

    How Mexico treats illegal immigrants is utterly irrelevant.

    I suppose your 54 years as a PHX native is supposed to give yo some kind of street cred. But it seems it hasn’t given you any ability to distinguish authoritarianism from freedom. A law that allows such powers to police is not an advance of the latter. Furthermore, your anecdote does not equal data.

    Let me use this moment to pull out my street cred. I’m a 43 year old native of Los Angeles. A town that is not unfamiliar with illegal immigrants from all over the globe. Interestingly, crime in this city has been on a downward trend for quite a while. Homicide rate is lower now than it was when then-governor Ronald Reagan decided gun control was a good thing against gun toting dark skinned folks. I’m willing to believe that illegal immigrants are responsible for more crime. But you’ll have your work cut out for you to make that case convincingly.

  22. #22 |  BSK | 

    A lot of people have mentioned, both here and elsewhere, that this is really just a re-emphasis of already existing federal laws. And, in my reading of the bill, it is, in certain ways. But, in some very important ways, it is absolutely different. This law empowers police officers with a new responsibility and new powers that they have never before had. And, because the standard of guilt is set so low (reasonable suspicion), they have essentially been given carte blanche. Where ever you stand on immigration law/reform, I struggle to see how anyone can view this new law as a good thing, except those few (hopefully few, at least!) who are comfortable with racial profiling.

  23. #23 |  shecky | 

    PW:

    1. This argument seems to hinge on the idea that legal immigrants won’t pay taxes.

    2. This argument is even more odd. It seems you are worried that legal immigrants will overwhelmingly become Democrats. With the way Republicans are behaving, I don’t think they can be blamed. Yet, you seem to think this is a good reason to keep them illegal. It may be a good reason for Republicans to wail about stemming the tide of newcomers. But it’s a pretty shitty way to think for someone presumably concerned with the ability of people to freely choose how they live their lives.

  24. #24 |  scott in phx az | 

    Shecky,

    How Mexico treats its illegal immigrants IS relevant for the same moralists who decry the racists in AZ are strangely silent when it comes to far worse abuses perpetrated by the same corrupt Mexican officials as they too lecture us on human rights.

    So stay in LA if you lilke but we in AZ have made our decision, and the fewer Californians that come here the better.

  25. #25 |  ClassAction | 

    #19

    It always boggles my mind when people contend that because an unequivocal good – the free movement of peoples consistent with private property rights – is fundamentally incompatible with two unequivocal evils – the coercive transfer of wealth from some people to other people, and the idea that a majority of people have the right to tell the minority of people how to live – that we have to abandon the good to placate the evil. If the first is really “fundamentally incompatible” with the second, we should be encouraging more of the first, because ultimately the second will have to give way.

  26. #26 |  shecky | 

    scott in phx az:

    How Mexico treats illegal immigrants, or smugglers, or jaywalkers has no relevance to how police in AZ have been given new powers tyrannize it’s residents. But if it’ll make you feel better, I’ll say it. The Mexican system is corrupt.

    Nope. Still makes no difference.

    Well, at least we aren’t as bad as Mexico! What a golden standard to Arizona holds itself to!

  27. #27 |  Phelps | 

    Lies, damned lies and statistics. Even if violent crime is down 20% in Arizona, it’s down 25% nationwide, meaning that Arizona is not dropping faster, or even as fast as the rest of the country. And property crime is down 40%, which means that Arizona is improving half as fast.

    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/data/table_01.html

  28. #28 |  scott in phx az | 

    btw Shecky,

    Don’t talk to me about “authoritarianism”, since in CA you have to go beg a gov’t official for the “privilege” of carrying a firearm.

    I’ll take our gold standard over yours.

  29. #29 |  PW | 

    Sheky -

    1. Whether they pay taxes or not is external to the argument. We all know that our government is addicted to perpetual and extreme deficit spending, so counting up who pay’s what in tax receipts really have little if anything to do with the level of spending on social welfare programs. And if your argument is that paying various taxes into the system entitles you to collect healthcare, education, and other social handouts irrespective of the question of whether those handouts should be provided at all and the collective burden that their provision imposes on all of society, I think you’ve missed the point entirely.

    2. You should be more careful with your assumptions if you think that I believe everyone should become Republicans, or if you even think that I vote Republican for that matter. But my larger point remains that the Democratic Party does consciously and aggressively target Hispanic immigrant populations for overtly self-serving reasons through the political exploitation of their immigrant and income status. Again, this is through no fault of the immigrant. But it is also a political reality that it happens, and that they’ve become pretty damn effective at it thanks to a compliant and complicit media and academic culture that is frankly enamored with Marxist racial and class collective identity politics.

    A political idealist would dismiss this concern rather flippantly, as you seem to do. But that’s the reason idealism almost always translates into bad practice, be it left wing progressivism or the whole neocon line about spreading democracy. A political realist has to recognize that ANY policy of the state that allocates a public resource also creates a dependent and often fiercely loyal political faction out of the recipients of those resources, particularly when they do so by stressing and propagandizing to the group identity of those recipients over their individuality. That’s the great paradox of democracy – it’s all wonderful in theory until the people, and particularly groups of people, figure out that they can vote themselves payoffs from the public treasury and use those payoffs to buy support from other groups, thus enlarging their political base.

    So long as our political system is unable to insulate itself from this form of group identity-driven statism – and presently ours isn’t – it makes absolutely no sense to intentionally encourage immigration from the very populations that are the most vulnerable to the state’s political exploitation.

  30. #30 |  shecky | 

    scott in phx az

    I’ll call you an authoritarian as long as you support authoritarian policy. If you want to play your game, you can call me one when I endorse CA’s restrictive gun laws. Which I don’t.

  31. #31 |  shecky | 

    PW:

    1. We all know that our government is addicted to perpetual and extreme deficit spending,

    Then the problem isn’t immigration after all.

    2. Your political realism seems to be the enemy of libertarian ideals. And you still seem to be concerned that immigrants will tilt the scale in favor of Democrats. Would it be any better if they flocked to Republicans? If yes, why? If no, would there be any reason in your mind to liberalize immigration at all?

  32. #32 |  PW | 

    ClassAction – In an ideal world under an ideal system of government you would be right. But ours is neither, and in fact the evidence is strong that the encouragement of the “good” of mass immigration amidst the “evil” of our welfare state will have the inevitable and long term effect of making that welfare state a perpetual and increasingly aggressive political institution, and thus an intractable problem. The statement that open immigration is incompatible with the welfare state and the political system that sustains it is a statement of political reality rather than political ideal.

    But that’s the great paradox of democracy. It’s all fine and dandy and full of “freedom” and “choice” and other stuff libertarians celebrate…until the people figure out they can vote themselves free shit from the public treasury.

  33. #33 |  scott in phx az | 

    call me anything you want Shecky, I don’t give a f%^k what you think.

  34. #34 |  PW | 

    #30 -

    1. No. The root problem is not open immigration. But I never said it was. I simply said that open immigration, in our present political system, is more likely than not to make that root problem worse.

    2. Considering the present state of things, I do consider the Democrats the worse of the two major political parties. Not by much. But Obama is all the bad of Bush’s police state combined with a strong personal and ideological animosity to free markets, property rights, and wealth. So yes, immigrants aligning with the Democrats is the more evil of two evil possibilities. As to libertarian ideals, my thoroughly libertarian contention is that the state itself is the root of the problem and that mankind is fundamentally incapable of governing itself at any level beyond benign and unobtrusive mediocrity – in other words, a government that doesn’t really do anything.

    Seeing as that is not the case with our thoroughly broken system, quibbling over how to make our government meet the libertarian ideal on immigration in spite of all the rest is about as pointless as a discussion about the least painful way to be murdered. First, the ideal will never be truly attained in the present state of things. And second, the external consequences of pursuing it will only make the system worse than it already is.

    The only rational solution therefore is to employ strategic realism that slows the war of attrition we are immersed in with a fundamentally broken system. And with the immigration issue coupled to the welfare state, that solution is to recognize that they are incompatible.

  35. #35 |  Papers, please § Unqualified Offerings | 

    [...] Radley says it pretty well too. [...]

  36. #36 |  Zargon | 

    #26
    Lies, damned lies and statistics. Even if violent crime is down 20% in Arizona, it’s down 25% nationwide, meaning that Arizona is not dropping faster, or even as fast as the rest of the country. And property crime is down 40%, which means that Arizona is improving half as fast.

    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/data/table_01.html

    Thank you for the effort to provide actual evidence. It’s more than most are willing to do. However, you made an error in timeframe for which I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. You compared a 20 year decline to a 10 year one.

    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.

    From your link:
    Nationwide violent crime
    1998 – 1,533,887
    2008 – 1,382,012
    = 9.9% decline

    Nationwide property crime
    1998 – 10,951,827
    2008 – 9,767,915
    = 10.8% decline

    So for the past decade, it appears AZ crime is declining about twice as the national average.

  37. #37 |  shecky | 

    PW:

    This is the problem. If the growth of the Democrats is the worry, it’s misplaced. In my lifetime, Republican control of government has never resulted in a smaller, less intrusive government. Quite the opposite has happened. If immigrants were to flock to the GOP, is there any reason to believe that they would somehow start living the ideals they preach?

    Your pessimism results in letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. Despite libertarian good intentions, the result is less freedom and prosperity for not only immigrants seeking a better life, but natives seeking a wider pool of labor. Which also results in prosperity.

  38. #38 |  PW | 

    “If immigrants were to flock to the GOP, is there any reason to believe that they would somehow start living the ideals they preach?”

    Not at all. But there is reason to believe that it would be LESS bad than with them flocking to the Democrats. They’re still evil, only slightly less evil – a point that you seem to be missing, despite me spelling it out very clearly several times now.

    The Republicans are NOT a good thing for this country. But they are demonstrably less evil than the Democrats, who tend to take all the Republican faults and inject them with steroids. Just two years ago the Bush wars and deficits of a couple hundred billion seemed incomprehensibly large. Obama’s turned that into trillions with barely a peep of concern. Plus the Republican Party does provide a home for libertarian-leaning politicians, even if it’s on the periphery. One would be hard pressed to make the case that the modern Democratic Party would even tolerate a Ron Paul, a Jeff Flake, a Barry Goldwater, or a Gary Johnson emerging to relatively high elective office in its ranks. But the Republicans have, even if they’re viewed as the black sheep of the party by its establishment.

    I should also note that I find it strangely ironic, and somewhat hypocritical, of you accusing me of “letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.” What greater example of that could there be than your pursuit of a “perfect” open immigration policy despite it being wholly impractical in our current political climate.

    Also, you can’t sustain the fruits of prosperity for very long if the people who enjoy it elect leaders who are avowedly hostile to the market that created it. We currently have such a leader. And he won in part with the heavy support of the very same constituencies who you present as desiring nothing but personal freedom and prosperity.

  39. #39 |  PW | 

    I think in some ways the immigration debate of the 21st century parallels Henry George’s position in the free trade debate of the 19th century.

    George’s enthusiasm for free trade was beyond reproach. But he also recognized something that very few of his peers in the free trade movement did at the time. The benefits of free trade were certain, but they were also largely diffuse and intangible from the perspective of the individual. A worker would notice though when he lost his job after the removal of a protective tariff rent he had long enjoyed, and that is why free trade lost the major political battles of the late 19th century despite being the superior position. George saw that the problem lay in the political system itself, and sought to tackle it not by continuing the same anti-tariff path but to flank it by assaulting the corrupt and thoroughly statist tax system. History proved him right too – the free trade reforms of 1913 were short-lived, and the political consequences of their poor design coupled with the income tax set us head first on the path to Smoot-Hawley.

    The same thing could be said about the open borders crowd today. In principal they are right, and their policy is a desirable one. But its immediate political consequences – its concentrated costs on high-population inflow areas and its extremely diffuse benefits – are its own undoing as a sustainable political policy. Immigration needs to be flanked to fix it, and part of that flanking is, unfortunately, addressing the dysfunctional condition of the state itself.

  40. #40 |  Kristen | 

    @James D

    Ask a local cop in AZ.

    First time visting The Agitator, eh?

  41. #41 |  JB | 

    Maintaining the border is no different than maintaining your property lines and in a lot of cases its the EXACT same. Plenty of illegals cross the border into private property owned by ranchers. I think the two are very consistant libertarian ideals. I have no problem with individuals who follow the process of coming into the country. If you are Mexican or Canadian for that matter and you cant take the time to apply for a visa that is the same as saying “I dont care that you own this peice of land I dont need your permission to cross it because its a shortcut to my place of work” Where I come from thats a good way to get shot at.
    Thats not to say I agree with this AZ law. I am still not sure about it.

  42. #42 |  KBCraig | 

    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.

    I’ve been telling people this for years. I’ve also pointed out that the only reason there are whole families here, is that it’s less risky to bring the whole family across, than to just work here for six months before going home to their families (which is what most illegal immigrants from Mexico really want to do).

    Not to mention all the trespassing, litter, and property damage suffered by ranchers along the border… believe it or not, an arduous and dangerous cross-country hike through the desert isn’t anyone’s preferred method for coming to America. They only take that route because they aren’t allowed in at the border.

    To reduce the “societal costs”, just allow anyone to come on in with no restrictions on working, but they must return home at least once a year unless they apply for citizenship.

  43. #43 |  Leonson | 

    How could our border being more closed make it harder for illegals to go home?

    If they’re from Mexico they can just go to any legal border crossing and leave.

    If they’re from somewhere south of Mexico, then we get into all sorts of other problems, such as Mexico’s southern border, and how it’s 100x harsher than ours to begin with.

    I think the idea that the fence is what’s keeping illegals here needs to be reconsidered.

  44. #44 |  BSK | 

    Zargon-

    All this data is a bit misleading. The 20% rate quoted in the article isn’t accurate based on the stats I found here (http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/azcrime.htm) and it isn’t clear what it’s based on. Also, the numbers you offered are based on total crime, not crime per 100K, which is a better measure.

    All in all, without citation, it’s hard to know which way the data flows. The research I did, using the link you provided as well as the one mentioned above offer inconclusive results, at least as far as I understand them (which is amateur, at best):

    - Violent crime rate in Arizona (2008): 447 per 100K
    - Violent crime rate in West region (2008): 445.4 per 100K
    - Violent crime rate nationwide (2008): 454.5 per 100K
    - Property crime rate in Arizona (2008): 4291 per 100K
    - Property crime rate in West region (2008): 3200.7 per 100K
    - Property crime rate nationwide (2008): 3212.5 per 100K

    - Change in Violent crime rate in Arizona (1989-2008): 599.6 to 447, a roughly 25% reduction
    - Change in Violent crime rate nationwide (1989-2008): 666.9 to 454, a roughly 32% reduction
    - Change in Property crime rate in Arizona (1989-2008): 7460 to 4291, a roughly 43% reduction
    - Change in Property crime rate nationwide (1989-2008): 5107 to 3212, a roughly 38% reduction

    Now, I’m no criminologist or statistician, but the results seem, at best, inconclusive. Arizona’s overall violent crime rate is lower than the nationwide average, but higher than it’s regional average. Its property crime rate is higher than both the nationwide and regional average. Its rate of decline for violent crime is slower than that of the nation, but its rate of decline for property crime is faster than that of the nation.

    Now, since this is calculated per 100K citizens, it is hard to know how this data is impacted by the presence of non-citizens themselves. If there are more non-citizens in Arizona than in other states or the nation as a whole, then all of these numbers are a bit inflated (unless we also assume that they are the victims of these crimes at roughly equal rates; however, if that is true, than it doesn’t support the premise that non-citizens pose a particular threat towards citizens). And, naturally, this data is subject to the same questions that all crime data is subject to, relating to reporting rates and such. If I was more thorough, I probably could determine where Arizona ranked in these two measures, but that would require a much greater effort than is possible at this time.

    What do I make of this data? I don’t know. It doesn’t point one way or another. At least, in my admittedly amateur understanding it doesn’t.

  45. #45 |  ClassAction | 

    #31

    The “political reality” is that the welfare state is simply not sustainable even under our current demographics. We simply cannot afford all our entitlement programs now – whether traditional welfare or corporate welfare. Whereas you just say (but do not mean) that open borders are “fundamentally incompatible” with the welfare state – I actually truly believe it. There is no amount of retrenchment that could save the welfare system if exposed to overnight to ten million + new participants. It would break completely, one way or the other, and you would kill two birds with one stone.

  46. #46 |  James D | 

    “First time visting The Agitator, eh?”
    Nope, as Radley points out, his stories are about the ‘bad’ cops … not ALL cops. Thanks for playing though ….

  47. #47 |  PW | 

    The welfare state won’t “break” though without significant harm to many innocent people, because the government will do everything possible to resist the “break” by financial manipulation and hyper-deficit spending at their expense. Yes, you could kill the welfare state and perhaps open the borders, but you’d also be killing the entire economy with it.

    Left alone, beast will eventually collapse under its own weight – that much is certain. But it’s also a very large beast and when it lands it will have casualties, so I’d think twice before forcing its demise in that manner.

  48. #48 |  JOR | 

    “Nope, as Radley points out, his stories are about the ‘bad’ cops … not ALL cops.”

    Radley’s a bit of a softie when it comes to the piggies.

    But we love him anyway.

  49. #49 |  Koko Sanchez | 

    It’s not about crime, drugs, or jobs for me. I don’t want them to come because they are democrat voting machines. They left a country that is so screwed up they can’t stay. There is a reason Mexico is so screwed up is becuase their citizens have allowed it. I don’t want my country to look like Mexico.

  50. #50 |  Nick | 

    “Nope, as Radley points out, his stories are about the ‘bad’ cops… not ALL cops.”

    William Grigg blogs about good cops (see his posts on Ramon Perez, Frank Palestro and Adil Polanco). Sadly, they’re as disturbing as the posts about bad cops but for an entirely different reason.

  51. #51 |  Robert | 

    Nick:

    Interestly enough, the last paragraph of your second link states:

    “Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct is currently being investigated by the NYPD “for manipulating statistics to make its cops look like better crimefighters,” the Daily News recently reported.

    Officers were reportedly told to record felonies as misdemeanors and to ignore complaints from crime victims in order to massage official statistics. One lieutenant has been given the sobriquet “The Shredder” because of his penchant for destroying documents.”

    Again, if the cops are massaging the numbers on crime statistics, who are we to believe when the reports are issued saying crime rates are down?

  52. #52 |  PW | 

    One more point to add: any effort to liberalize American immigration laws should also involve a sweeping bilateral liberalization of Mexico’s immigration and property ownership laws at the same time. It could be negotiated along similar lines as NAFTA, but apply strictly to immigration policies. If Mexico says no, then I see no reason why the United States should even bother with this issue any further.

    Mexico’s immigration laws are substantially more restrictive than the United States, and they have highly protectionist restrictions on property ownership by foreign nationals. This is an old article, but it summarizes the major parts:

    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=14632

  53. #53 |  Zargon | 

    #44
    Also, the numbers you offered are based on total crime, not crime per 100K, which is a better measure.

    That is correct. That was an error on my end.

    Other confounding problems would include whether or not illegitimate possession crimes are being included, and how much the stats are being juked by the individual departments. Additionally, the more non-citizens there are in AZ, the better the real picture becomes for them, per 100K, so if there’s more in 2008 than 1998, that’s another bonus. However, I don’t think that’s a given, since pretty much everyone I know of who reports that information has an incentive to overestimate the immigrant problem.

    So I’d say it’s pretty hard or impossible to get a really accurate picture, but it seems clear enough to say that AZ isn’t in the midst of a crime wave prompted by illegals.

  54. #54 |  albatross | 

    If you’re worried about manipulation of reports by police, isn’t the usual solution to look at the reported rates of murder? The argument I’ve always seen is that murders are extremely hard to “forget” by losing the paperwork, so while you might “forget” about a few assault cases or petty thefts, the victims’ dead bodies don’t fit so well into a paper shredder.

    Similarly, you could look at car insurance rates, or insurance industry statistics on car theft. That’s an independent channel from the police, and even if the local police “lose” the paperwork before reporting the crime to the justice dept., the insurance company gets a claim.

    Finally, I believe the BJS includes victim survey data, in which random people are surveyed and asked if they’ve been victims of crime. Aren’t those broken down by state? That would give another independent measure of the rate of crime in AZ vs. other places.

  55. #55 |  Kidseven | 

    So nice to see so many Agitator readers having at least some problem with unchecked illegal immigration. I’m sympathetic to most libertarian principals, but illegal immigration and a welfare state simply aren’t compatible. It’s an old argument, but I think the “country being like a family” analogy is still a good one. I need to have some control over who moves into my home if I’m going to run a successful household.

  56. #56 |  Nick | 

    “Nick:

    Interestly enough, the last paragraph of your second link states:

    Officers were reportedly told to record felonies as misdemeanors and to ignore complaints from crime victims in order to massage official statistics….

    Again, if the cops are massaging the numbers on crime statistics, who are we to believe when the reports are issued saying crime rates are down?”

    I agree. Government is not a credible source of information (especially when it comes to statistics). It’s a moot point though. Even if I had access to accurate statistics, it would have no effect on my opinion about immigration. My view on immigration is based on property rights and the axiom of non-aggression.

  57. #57 |  PW | 

    #56 – There is an overlooked yet indisputable property rights issue deriving from immigration debate in the form of trespass. The physical act of illegally entering a country almost always involves an act of trespass across the private property of another person.

    Ask the farmers along the southern border, and they will generally tell you that this trespass is unwanted, inconveniencing, and at times even dangerous, as with smugglers and criminal cartels who often use the same routes to enter the United States. At the very least this trespass frequently results in litter on private property, vandalism of their fences and buildings, theft of their crops and water, and a general nuisance of traffic and its associated costs where it is neither wanted by nor re-compensated to the land owner.

    If we start from the fundamentally libertarian premise that one of the few actual legitimate functions of the state is the protection and enforcement of private property rights, then it becomes a necessary and irrefutable conclusion that the current federal immigration policy is failing to fulfill this function. Private property owners are having their land trespassed upon, and virtually no meaningful recourse from the state against those who illegally trespass upon it.

    Now in some cases it may be argued that a minor trespass is outweighed by other factors in the grander scheme of things. But if I am a property owner, it is my right by definition to control who may enter, use, and exit my property. And it is equally reasonable for me to expect that the state will uphold and protect this right under the law, and upon my asking prosecute those who infringe upon it just as they prosecute those who would burglarize my house or steal my car.

    And the failure of the government to protect that private property right so is not the cause for celebration that some around here seem to think it is.

  58. #58 |  Some of my thoughts on Immigration - LONG post! - Page 2 - INGunOwners | 

    [...] by 20 percent. Crime has also declined in the rest of the country, but not as fast as in Arizona. Immigration and Crime | The Agitator El Paso is one of the safest big cities in the US if you are to believe reported crime data. The [...]

  59. #59 |  Some of my thoughts on Immigration - LONG post! - Page 3 - INGunOwners | 

    [...] by 20 percent. Crime has also declined in the rest of the country, but not as fast as in Arizona. Immigration and Crime | The Agitator El Paso is one of the safest big cities in the US if you are to believe reported crime data. The [...]

  60. #60 |  bobzbob | 

    “Truth is, illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native Americans”

    Shouldn’t that be “illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the descendants of previous generations of immigrants?”

  61. #61 |  Nick | 

    “There is an overlooked yet indisputable property rights issue deriving from immigration debate in the form of trespass.”

    I agree but I find it’s almost always overlooked by those favoring state control of immigration. A property owner has every right to expel a trespasser from their property, by force if necessary. In our current system, where the state has a monopoly on law enforcement and the costs are socialized, that property owner also has every right to ask the police to protect his property rights.

    But that’s only half of it. Just as a property owner has the right to deny an individual entry to their property, they also have the right to allow any individual entry to their property (regardless of where that person came from). If my friend from Mexico and I decide it would be mutually beneficial for him to come live on my property, to tell me it is not allowed or will only be allowed if some men with guns give both of us permission is to deny me my property rights.

  62. #62 |  dobropet | 

    Seeing all these responses proves this is truly a diversified problem:

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2010/apr/mexico-migrant-abuse-human-rights-crisis

    Maybe the annexation of Mexico is a possiblility (remembering this suggestion from another article).

  63. #63 |  Guido | 

    Shame on white people.

    Disclaimer: I’m white.

  64. #64 |  PW | 

    “A property owner has every right to expel a trespasser from their property, by force if necessary.”

    Except they don’t really. Our lunatic-driven tort system and its far left enablers who look to illegal immigrants as a prospective political bloc have essentially made it the case that a person who uses force to defend his property in such a manner is simply inviting a costly lawsuit.

    As to asking law enforcement to do its job (which is also one of the very few legitimate jobs it has), what do you think they’ve been doing all these years? The border ranchers have been pleading with the feds for more border patrol, and in Arizona they are clamoring behind this new law, misguided though it may be. But it’s also the product of begging for help to enforce their property rights for years and getting jack squat.

    But it’s often worse than jack squat. For simply insisting that their property rights be respected, they are routinely tarred as racists by the left and generally overlooked as inconsequential complainers with comparatively trivial grievances by open border libertarians.

    You are also absolutely right that a rancher should be able to allow people – including those from another country – to cross his property if he so chooses. But the majority of them do not so choose. The problem we have right now is that virtually nobody on the pro-immigration side of the debate gives a shit that their inherent right to control access to their own private property is being trampled upon and the government isn’t doing a damn thing to stop it.

    With that in mind, I submit that there are three basic conditions that libertarians should demand be met BEFORE we should even begin to consider whether to open up our borders:

    1. End the welfare state, or at least open access to it among the immigrant population.

    2. Insist that Mexico adopt a bilateral and equally comprehensive liberalization of its own immigration laws, which are far worse than ours.

    3. Recognize the inherent right of private property among those who own land along the border and either fulfill the state’s function of enforcing that right or enable them the unquestioned right to enforce it themselves without constant fear of political harassment and abusive lawsuits.

  65. #65 |  Straybeat in Phoenix | 

    PW, in Arizona you are allowed to shoot anyone within your property line that you deem a threat to you or your property. Now of course a court might decide otherwise, but you have the option nonetheless.

    One caveat, I did live in Florida for a couple of years and they might have repealed this while I was gone, but I never heard about it if they did?

  66. #66 |  Guido | 

    scott in PHX
    “So stay in LA if you lilke but we in AZ have made our decision, and the fewer Californians that come here the better.”

    You had me at hello.

  67. #67 |  Bob | 

    Frankly Balko, your immigration stance is asinine. What Exactly don’t you understand about them being ‘ILLEGAL’ ???
    This article is stupid. Why don’t we just fire all the cops and move in a few thousand illegals. Then crime will disappear, right?
    Do yourself (and us) a favor and print the Mexican policy on illegal aliens in their country. THEY ARREST YOU OR KICK YOU OUT. But we shouldn’t do the same? Liberals like you are what has killed this country.

  68. #68 |  Werner | 

    I get tired of people saying “respect has to be earned”. We are not talking about anything more than the right to exist and be left alone by government busy bodies. If borders did not exist then social welfare would have to be organized differently, in other words so that people wouldn’t have to run from one low wage rat hole to another.

  69. #69 |  Guido | 

    @ Bob
    Why do hate freedom?

  70. #70 |  Nick | 

    “A property owner has every right to expel a trespasser from their property, by force if necessary.”

    Except they don’t really.

    Yes, they do. Just because a group of criminals who call themselves “the government” are willing to use force to prevent you from or punish you for exercising that right, does not mean that you don’t have it. Yours is an argument for ending the state’s monopoly on law enforcement and the court system, not an argument to restrict the property rights of others.

  71. #71 |  PW | 

    Tell ya what, Nick. Why don’t you go out and try to “exercise” that “right” for yourself then. Go shoot the next person who trespasses on your property. Then go tell the court that you were simply defending your property. And tell the warden at the prison they send you to that he must release you for simply defending your property.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t have that right, but the simple reality is far from it. And that brings your analysis of the property rights argument to something else in common with your take on the immigration problem: both are utterly impractical.

  72. #72 |  Kevin | 

    I believe there is a way to deal with the issue of immigration without going at it to this extreme. It’s easy to make the case that the law is getting rid of illegals…but what about the civil rights of us who are here legally and get “profiled by local police”. That’s what my beef with the whole thing. How will police be able to spot illegals without “racial profiling”. Any other argument is baseless, because I’m interested to see how the hell they will make this work without infringing on my rights, and your rights. Because the way I see it, the police will not looking for European illegals (I have met one before…true story), there focus is…Brown…Black…Accent…No English…cuff em.

    Also, didn’t conservatives/gop/republicans want less government interference. Now you want government interference, I wish you people make up your minds. Or just admit that your bitter about the ass kicking in the presidential election. So I’m gonna sit back and see how this plays out…and pray I don’t get my rights violated because of my skin color. No I will not be carrying my birth certificate (I have no idea where it’s at). Just my drivers license. And once I get stopped for “suspicion” and not speeding…I will have my lawyer available via On-Star speed dial.

  73. #73 |  Nick | 

    “Tell ya what, Nick. Why don’t you go out and try to ‘exercise’ that ‘right’ for yourself then. Go shoot the next person who trespasses on your property. Then go tell the court that you were simply defending your property. And tell the warden at the prison they send you to that he must release you for simply defending your property.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t have that right, but the simple reality is far from it.”

    Did you read my comment? In that comment, I acknowledged that there is a “group of criminals who call themselves ‘the government’ [that] are willing to use force to prevent you from [exercising that right] or punish you for exercising that right”. Why would you repeat this point as if it rebutted something I said? I’m also getting the feeling you think property rights are something that come from government.

    “And that brings your analysis of the property rights argument to something else in common with your take on the immigration problem: both are utterly impractical.”

    I see where you’re confused. My view isn’t utilitarian, it’s ethical. It’s pretty simple, I’m saying that aggression is never justified. You’re saying that, in this case, aggression is justified because solving the actual problem (welfare state, gov’t not recognizing property rights, etc.) is not “practical”. It’s kind of ironic because the welfare-statists also believe aggression is justified, albeit for different reasons.

  74. #74 |  Dennis Lee Wilson | 

    I note with interest—especially in the comments—the many calls for “respect the law” and “enforce the law” and “make the Feds do their job”. However, because ALL these Federal “laws”, rules, restrictions and regulations are themselves ILLEGAL, the solution is NOT reform but immediate REPEAL!

    THAT would be true “enforcement of the law” and true “respect for the law”! The Constitution is SUPPOSED TO BE the supreme law of the country.

    As I stated in my 2007 article by the same name: “Immigration control is UN-Constitutional!”

    REALLY! It is TRUE! The US Constitution does NOT AUTHORIZE immigration control! Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/yeyd7kq

    As for open immigration being “incompatible with the modern welfare state”, I addressed the error of THAT argument in detail in my 2006 article “Ask the Right Question” at http://tinyurl.com/law9vz in which I show (among other things) that government employees are not doing the job of qualifying the citizenship status of recipients which—by their own laws & regulations–they are supposed to do.

    And, for those who may be interested, I also address the alleged trespass issue, its true cause, and show the fallacy of the analogy that your home is like “your” country. Too long to post here.

  75. #75 |  Legal Articles | 

    Legal Articles…

    [...]Immigration and Crime | The Agitator[...]…

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