Beth Werlin, Deputy Legal Director for the American Immigration Council, discusses the recent...
Arizona Border Fence: In Effort to Attract Internet Donors, State Senator Russell Pearce Spews False Immigrant Crime Statistics
Published on Sat, Apr 09, 2011
Annnd... Arizona's anti-immigration campaign hurtles still further into red-state ridiculousness.
This morning, Governor Jan Brewer announced her latest, greatest battle plan in the war against illegal border-crossers: collect Internet donations to build a massive fence across the Arizona-Mexico line. (And what'll donors get in return? Why, an "I Helped Build the Arizona Wall" keepsake T-shirt, of course!)
In support, State Senator Russell Pearce squeezed in a few words of pro-fence propaganda on L.A.'s KNX news radio this morning. Here's the pile of steaming misinformation he dumped from his politickin' piehole:
Pearce claimed that illegal immigrants commit 2.5 times more violent crime than any other demographic.
He also used a Sin City analogy as a fear tactic to garner out-of-state support ("Unlike Vegas, what goes into Arizona doesn't stay in Arizona") and called the immigrant influx from Mexico an "invasion," but we'll let all that slide in the interest of clearing up this crime thing once and for all.
In response to Pearce's theory, we can almost see Wendy Sefsaf of the Immigration Policy Center roll her eyes over the phone.
She recommends we speak to the Department of Homeland Security about the fence idea (which, amusingly, cites prisoners as the perfect candidates for erecting the thing), but guesses it's "unprecedented, and probably illegal" for a state to evade federal strategy and take something so controversial into its own hands.
A Homeland Security rep will only say, "My apologies, DHS does not comment on state legislation." Ironically, President Obama is headed to the South tomorrow to push a more progressive (read: fenceless) U.S. immigration policy.
But as for the violent-crime statistic: The Immigration Policy Center released a March 2008 report that showed just the opposite, and Sefsaf says the trend has stayed consistent. An excerpt:
Although the undocumented immigrant population doubled from 1994 to 2005, the violent crime rate in the United States declined by 34.2 percent and the property crime rate fell by 26.4 percent during the same period. Border cities and other cities with large immigrant populations also experienced decreasing crime rates.
From 1999 to 2006, the total crime rate declined 13.6 percent in the 19 highest immigration states, compared to a 7.1 percent decline in the other 32 states.
UC Irvine sociologist Ruben Rumbaut released a study on "The Myth of Immigrant Criminality" in 2007, debunking the popular talking point that illegal aliens are more likely to commit violent crimes. Instead, he found native-born men were actually incarcerated at a higher rate.
We're waiting to hear back from Pearce on where he tracked down his numbers, and how, exactly, he thinks a border fence will keep the economic equilibrium from naturally attempting to level itself. (We're also a little worried about how self-deployed Minutemen will get their kicks without all those desertlings running around for target practice.)
Oh -- did we mention Pearce has ties to the National Security Alliance, a neo-nazi white supremacist group known for staking out the border with pistols and high-powered rifles? Fast fact: The alliance's SoCal leader was just allegedly murdered by his 10-year-old son. Who's the violent criminal now?
Published in the LA Weekly | Read Article