I’m in favor of tough border enforcement stopping illegal entry into the US. That comes from a solid concern about national security and support for legal immigrants who take the time to follow the law when they move to our nation. People who disrespect our laws at the outset of their relationship with Americans should not profit from their lawbreaking.
Many conservatives oppose illegal immigration on those grounds, and that opposition doesn’t limit itself to the Right, either. However, what drives me batty are the unsubstantiated claims that a handful of militant immigration hawks use as scare tactics in an attempt to gain more support. Those claims usually get reported at some point by World News Daily, a hardline conservative news service, which doesn’t usually miss an opportunity to relay the latest wild-eyed claim. Today, WND reports that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) put out ‘statistics” that illegal immigrants murder over 4,000 Americans every year:
While the military “quagmire” in Iraq was said to tip the scales of power in the U.S. midterm elections, most Americans have no idea more of their fellow citizens – men, women and children – were murdered this year by illegal aliens than the combined death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since those military campaigns began.
Though no federal statistics are kept on murders or any other crimes committed by illegal aliens, a number of groups have produced estimates based on data collected from prisons, news reports and independent research.
Twelve Americans are murdered every day by illegal aliens, according to statistics released by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. If those numbers are correct, it translates to 4,380 Americans murdered annually by illegal aliens. That’s 21,900 since Sept. 11, 2001.
Let’s ponder this for a moment before I get to some real statistics. WND and King acknowledge that no one has done any real study on murders and their perpetrators, and yet somehow they have figured out that illegals murder 12 people a day. That’s murder, the deliberate act of killing someone else, as opposed to negligent homicide. We know that because King and WND claim that an additional 13 Americans a day perish as a result of drunken illegal immigrants driving on our roads.
They just know it, because some other groups have anecdotal evidence of it.
Well, let’s try a little reality. The FBI, which actually does collect statistics on crimes, reported that 16,692 murders took place in the US in 2005. This is down from a high of 24,703 in 1991, which would indicate that it doesn’t follow illegal immigration, since the latter is a cumulative progression over the last 15 years (in other words, we have a lot more illegals here now than then).
If King and WND have their numbers correct, that would mean that illegals commit 26.2% of all murders in the US. However, they only comprise less than 7% of the American population, even if one accepts the figure of 20 million illegals here now. Doesn’t that seem just a bit strange to anyone? Given that only 3 million illegals were here in 1986 when Congress and the Reagan administration passed the amnesty program, comprising 1.25% of the American population, then we should have seen dramatically fewer murders that year.
Unfortunately, the FBI shows that 1986 saw over 20,000 Americans murdered that year — 23% more than 2005.
In fact, the FBI does not categorize Hispanics as a separate racial group in its statistics, but instead includes them with Caucasians. Even so, the numbers demonstrate rather clearly that King and WND are talking out of their hats. Of all the people arrested for murders in 2005 (10,083), only 4,955 were white/Hispanic, and that includes all arrests in that racial category. In order to believe King and WND, every single one of these people would have to be illegal aliens.
Asinine hardly begins to describe this report. Conservative decry junk science; bad statistics are just as bad. It took me all of 10 minutes to check this data, something that Rep. King apparently couldn’t bother to have his staff do, and a standard fact check that WND declined to perform. It seems that some people will believe almost anything as long as it can be used to demonize illegal aliens.
We need better border security and a plan to end illegal immigration. What we do not need are easily-debunked memes like this floating around, discrediting proponents of border enforcement and painting all of us as benighted haters. Rep. King did us all a disservice and WND once again proved itself more useful for hysterics than truth.