An oft-repeated claim in the debate over Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, is that tough immigration-enforcement measures are needed to prevent violent crime from engulfing the state. In particular, supporters of SB 1070 often cite kidnappings in the state’s capital, Phoenix, as a reason to crack down on unauthorized immigrants. Arizona politicians such as U.S. Senator John McCain and State Senator Russell Pearce, for instance, have justified their calls for more immigration enforcement by claiming that Phoenix is the “the number two kidnapping capital of the world” after Mexico City. Not only is this claim false, but it ignores two inconvenient facts. First of all, the victims of most kidnappings in Phoenix are unauthorized immigrants. Second, crime rates in Arizona have been falling for years. Cracking down on the unauthorized immigrants upon whom so many kidnappers prey is a classic case of blaming the victim. Moreover, this blame-the-victim posture diverts attention from the fact that the broken U.S. immigration system has created a lucrative market for kidnappers.
The claim that Phoenix is “the number two kidnapping capital of the world” is untrue.Read more...
New CBO Report Underscores Diverse Contributions of Foreign-Born Workers
A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) underscores not only the diversity of the foreign-born labor force in the United States, but also the myriad roles that immigrant workers play in the U.S. economy. The report, which analyzes data from the Current Population Survey, finds that 15.5 percent of the U.S. labor force was foreign-born in 2009, up slightly from 14.5 percent in 2004. Moreover, immigrant workers and their native-born counterparts differ significantly in terms of occupation and education, as well as where in the country they live. As other, more detailed analyses have confirmed, this suggests that immigrants and natives are filling different niches in the U.S. labor market and are therefore not in direct competition with each other for most jobs.
What proponents of laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 fail to understand is that state and local enforcement of immigration law actually jeopardizes the federal government’s ability to set priorities for immigration enforcement. SB 1070 would divert scarce federal resources away from finding dangerous criminals throughout the United States, focusing instead on detaining and deporting non-violent immigrants in one state: Arizona.
This week, Fox News is reporting on data provided to them by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) which amounts to a highly misleading fiscal snapshot of the costs allegedly imposed on U.S. taxpayers by unauthorized immigrants. However, in its rush to portray unauthorized immigrants as nothing more than a drain on the public treasury, FAIR completely discounts the economic contributions of unauthorized workers and consumers. Moreover, FAIR inflates their cost estimate by indiscriminately lumping together native-born, U.S.-citizen children with their unauthorized parents.
Violent Crimes Are Down in the State’s Three Largest Cities
Many supporters of Arizona’s harsh new anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, continue to insist that the law is, in part, a crime-fighting measure. However, the latest crime statistics released by the FBI confirm what previous data had already indicated: that Arizona is in the midst of a years-long decline in violent crime that pre-dates SB 1070, despite the growing number of unauthorized immigrants in the state during those same years. Specifically, preliminary data released by the FBI on May 24, when compared to data from previous years, reveals that the numbers of violent crimes as a whole, and murders in particular, have been trending downwards for years in Arizona’s three largest cities: Phoenix, Tucson, and Mesa. Arizona’s falling crime rates, together with a century’s worth of evidence indicating that immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes than the native-born, cast serious doubt on the claims of some SB 1070 supporters that the law is in any way a useful crime-fighting tool.
Ending Birthright Citizenship Would Be Unconstitutional, Impractical, Expensive, Complicated and Would Not Stop Illegal Immigration
Anti-immigrant groups and legislators have persisted in their attempts to restrict or repeal birthright citizenship in State Houses and the U.S. Congress. Several bills have been introduced that would deny U.S. citizenship to children whose parents are in the U.S. illegally or on temporary visas. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution - the cornerstone of American civil rights - affirms that, with very few exceptions, all persons born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Following the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves, the Fourteenth Amendment restated the longstanding principle of birthright citizenship, which had been temporarily erased by the Supreme Court's "Dred Scott" decision which denied birthright citizenship to the U.S.-born children of slaves. The Supreme Court has consistently upheld birthright citizenship over the years. The following fact sheet is adapted from the Immigration Policy Center’s Made in America: Myths and Facts About Birthright Citizenship.
High levels of unemployment have led some to propagate the myth that every immigrant added to the U.S. labor force amounts to a job lost by a native-born worker, or that every job loss for a native-born worker is evidence that there is need for one less immigrant worker. In fact, this has been the rationale behind any number of harsh legislative proposals targeting immigrants. These kinds of proposals may be appealing politically, but they reflect dangerously simplistic assumptions about labor-force dynamics. Moreover, such proposals distract from the far more important goal of creating economic policies that generate growth and create jobs for workers across the U.S. labor market. As data from the 2009 Current Population Survey illustrates, most immigrant and native-born workers are not competing with each other in today’s tight job markets.
Immigration Enforcement without Immigration Reform Doesn’t Work
This week, the Senate will consider amendments to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill that would add thousands of additional personnel along the border (including the National Guard), as well as provide millions of dollars for detention beds, technology, and resources. Yesterday, bowing to pressure, President Obama announced that he would send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border and request $500 million for additional resources. All of this attention on resources for the border ignores the fact that border enforcement alone is not going to resolve the underlying problems with our broken immigration system.