Monday, July 6, 2015

Trump and the Myth of Immigrant Crime

Numbers about those who come to America show they aren’t the source of trouble.

From Steve Chapman of Reason. Excerpt:
"One story, he noted, said that 80 percent of Central American women are raped on their way to the United States.

Does this mean the victims were accompanied here by rapists who have crossed into America and are now dwelling among us? Not quite. The Huffington Post story he cited said the victims are usually raped before they get here—by bandits, human traffickers or government officials (including, presumably, corrupt police) in Mexico. "Migrants being raped" does not equal "rapists migrating." 
Trump had other articles, including a couple reporting deadly crimes committed by people who have come here without permission. But anecdotes can be misleading. Out of any group of people—Episcopalians, West Virginians, tennis fans, legal immigrants from Canada—you can find some criminals. That doesn't mean the bad guys are representative of the whole.

The outrages cited by Trump are outside the norm, to say the least. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, pointed out last year, "The murder rate is actually higher in Washington, D.C., where I work, than in my hometown of Laredo, Texas, or other cities on the border like McAllen."

In 2011, El Paso, Texas, had the lowest crime rate ranking of any city with 500,000 or more residents. That is despite being just across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico—which in 2011 had the second highest murder rate of any city on Earth.

The same pattern shows up away from the border as well. In his extensive research on Chicago—a city Trump cited for its violent crime—Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson has found "a significantly lower rate of violence among Mexican-Americans compared to blacks and whites." 

Here, he says, "increases in immigration and language diversity over the decade of the 1990s predicted decreases in neighborhood homicide rates in the late '90s and up to 2006." If Trump wants to avoid rapists, here's some advice: Head for areas with lots of residents who were born in Mexico. Sampson thinks it is no coincidence that crime rates nationwide have plunged over the past two decades just as immigrants, authorized and unauthorized, were arriving in record numbers.

In the first place, these newcomers are generally less prone to break the law than native-born Americans. Most Mexicans who undertake the risks and sacrifices required to come here want to work at honest jobs and provide for their families, not rape and kill. Mexicans who want to rape and kill, after all, can find plenty of suitable targets without leaving home.

In the second place, the influx of foreigners, particularly from Mexico, has helped revive many blighted communities. They have generated economic activity and filled vacant buildings, both of which tend to curb crime. What's true of Chicago, Sampson notes, is also true of New York and Los Angeles, where crime has subsided fastest in the neighborhoods with the highest immigrant concentrations."

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