Defending AZ law, Peters falsely claims crime rates are "soaring" in border states

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

In his New York Post column, Ralph Peters defended the controversial Arizona immigration law in part by citing "soaring crime rates in our border states." However, crime rates in Arizona -- as well as crime rates for each state bordering Mexico -- have dropped during the past decade.

Peters defends AZ law in part by citing "soaring crime rates in our border states"

From Peters' April 29 New York Post column:

Our ruling class simply doesn't feel the pain. So the DC elite demonizes Arizona's desperate effort to shove the narco-revolution's disorder back across the border. Murdered ranchers, overwhelmed emergency rooms and soaring crime rates in our border states mean less to the White House than a terrorist detainee's claims of abuse.

In fact, according to BJS, crime rates in border states have dropped during past decade

Crime rates in Arizona at lowest point in decades. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the violent crime rate in Arizona was lower in 2006, 2007, and 2008 -- the most recent year from which data are available -- than any year since 1983. The property crime rate in Arizona was lower in 2006, 2007, and 2008 than any year since 1968. In addition, in Arizona, the violent crime rate dropped from 577.9 per 100,000 population in 1998 to 447 per 100,000 population in 2008; the property crime rate dropped from 5,997 to 4,291 during the same period. During the same decade, Arizona's undocumented immigrant population grew rapidly. The Arizona Republic reported: "Between January 2000 and January 2008, Arizona's undocumented population grew 70 percent, according to the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] report. Nationally, it grew 37 percent."

Crime rates have dropped during past decade in other border states. The BJS data further show that violent crime rates and property crime rates in California, New Mexico, and Texas dropped from 1998 through 2008 -- the most recent year from which data are available:

  • In California, the violent crime rate dropped from 703.7 in 1998 to 503.8 in 2008; the property crime rate dropped from 3,639.1 to 2,940.3 during the same period.
  • In New Mexico, the violent crime rate dropped from 961.4 in 1998 to 649.9 in 2008; the property crime rate dropped from 5,757.7 to 3,909.2 over the same period.
  • In Texas, the violent crime rate dropped from 564.6 in 1998 to 507.9 in 2008; the property crime rate dropped from 4,547 to 3,985.6 over the same period.

Cato's Griswold: "[I]t is a smear to blame low-skilled immigrant workers from Latin America for creating a crime problem in Arizona." In an April 27 post, Daniel Griswold, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies, wrote that "Arizona's harsh new law against illegal immigration is being justified in part as a measure to combat crime" and that "drug-related violence along the border is a real problem." But, Griswold continued, "it is a smear to blame low-skilled immigrant workers from Latin America for creating a crime problem in Arizona." From Griswold's post:

Arizona's harsh new law against illegal immigration is being justified in part as a measure to combat crime. The murder of an Arizona rancher in March, allegedly by somebody in the country without documentation, galvanized support for the bill.

The death of the rancher was a tragedy, and drug-related violence along the border is a real problem, but it is a smear to blame low-skilled immigrant workers from Latin America for creating a crime problem in Arizona.

The crime rate in Arizona in 2008 was the lowest it has been in four decades. In the past decade, as the number of illegal immigrants in the state grew rapidly, the violent crime rate dropped by 23 percent, the property crime rate by 28 percent.

Peters also claimed that AZ bill "empower[s] police to pursue criminal aliens"

From Peters' column:

But these issues are all interwoven with the Mexican government's existential crisis. Drug wealth fuels criminal empires. Those narco-empires are now so powerful that they've risen against the state. Human trafficking is a useful sideline for drug lords. And illegal immigration drives crime rates in bankruptcy-threatened US cities and states.

Cross-border trade's the next target. Narco-insurgents now feel sufficiently confident to attack Mexican army installations and US consulates. The maquiladoras, those thousands of assembly plants along the border, won't escape the mayhem. Given their enormous contribution to Mexico's fiscal stability and employment rates, those plants are obvious targets as the narco-challenge to the state intensifies.

Mexican journalists, too, have been killed by the hundreds. Their torture and execution doesn't generate much excitement north of the border, though. It's their bad luck to be butchered by Mexican narcos. Had they been killed accidentally by US forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, they'd be famous martyrs.

And Arizona's "discriminatory" new state law empowering police to pursue criminal aliens? Should Phoenix let the rule of law collapse because Washington prefers political correctness to public safety? In DC, it's about politics. In Arizona, it's about survival.

But officers reportedly could already inquire about immigration status of those who are suspected of another crime

LA Times: "Currently, officers can inquire about" immigration status "if the person is a suspect in another crime." The Los Angeles Times reported of the Arizona bill on April 13: "Currently, officers can inquire about someone's immigration status only if the person is a suspect in another crime. The bill allows officers to avoid the immigration issue if it would be impractical or hinder another investigation." From the article:

The bill, known as SB 1070, makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona. It also requires police officers, if they form a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person's immigration status.

Currently, officers can inquire about someone's immigration status only if the person is a suspect in another crime. The bill allows officers to avoid the immigration issue if it would be impractical or hinder another investigation.

Posted In
Immigration, Enforcement
Network/Outlet
New York Post
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