The Corner

Americans Are Right to Worry about Illegal Aliens and Crime

Last week I mentioned the U.S.Comission on Civil Rights’ flawed report to the president and Congress on detention facilities for illegal aliens. Among other things, the report claims that Americans who are concerned about illegal aliens’ involvement in crime are, well, confused.

If you read my dissent to the report (I’m a member of the commission), however, you’ll quickly discover that it’s the report that’s confused – dramatically so. Unfortunately, my dissent was omitted when the report was issued two weeks ago ( I know of no other instance in which this has ever happened), so let me give you a sample of the comparative criminal data contained in the dissent (the government doesn’t neatly disaggregate crime statistics based on perpetrators’ residency status. Nonetheless, by cross-referencing several databases, a surprisingly clear picture emerges).

Using data from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), state prison systems, and Pew, we were able to compare rates of major offenses in states with sizeable populations of illegal aliens. For example:

‐Arizona: Approximately 240 illegal aliens were imprisoned for homicide-related offenses. This means approximately 68.57 illegal aliens were imprisoned for homicide offenses per 100,000 illegal aliens in Arizona, whereas 54.06 citizens and legal residents were imprisoned for homicide-related offenses per 100,000 citizens and legal residents in Arizona.

‐California: Approximately 2,430 illegal aliens were imprisoned for homicide-related offenses. This means approximately 97.2 illegal aliens were imprisoned for homicide and related offenses per 100,000 illegal aliens in California, whereas 74.1 citizens and legal residents were imprisoned for homicide and related offenses per 100,000 citizens and legal residents.

‐Florida: Approximately 480 illegal aliens were imprisoned for homicide-related offenses. This means approximately 54.85 illegal aliens were imprisoned for murder and manslaughter per 100,000 illegal aliens in Florida, whereas approximately 67.8 legal residents were imprisoned for murder and manslaughter per 100,000 legal residents.

‐New York: Approximately 1,350 illegal aliens were imprisoned for homicide-related offenses. This means approximately 168.75 illegal aliens were imprisoned for  murder and related offenses per 100,000 illegal aliens in the state, whereas approximately 48.12 legal residents were imprisoned for murder and related offenses per 100,000 legal residents.

‐Texas: Approximately 900 illegal aliens were imprisoned for homicide-related offenses. This means approximately 54.54 illegal aliens were incarcerated for homicide-related offenses per 100,000 illegal aliens in Texas, whereas approximately 65.43 legal residents were incarcerated for homicide-related offenses per 100,000 legal residents.

As you can see, in three of the five states above, incarceration rates for  murder and manslaughter were far higher for illegal aliens than for legal residents. Incarceration rates for murder are an imperfect proxy for rates of murders committed (illegal aliens may be more likely to be apprehended, have less competent counsel, etc ), but it’s difficult to contend that illegal aliens are more law-abiding than legal residents — at least when it comes to major crimes. And it’s even more difficult to contend that Americans’ concern about crimes committed by illegal aliens is overblown.

Regardless, comparative crime rates are less important than the absolute number of crimes committed by illegal aliens. Look at California, where approximately 2,430 illegal aliens are in prison just for homicide-related offenses. Even if one assumes that each illegal alien so imprisoned was responsible for just one homicide-related offense, that amounts to about a couple thousand major crimes that, arguably, wouldn’t have occurred but for the actors’ unlawful presence in the United States. That translates to thousands of American citizens (and others) accross the country slaughtered by individuals who shouldn’t have been here in the first place.

Should the government ever publish my dissent – as it’s required to do and which it’s done for the 57-year history of the commission – you’ll be able to read even more.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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