Fox News Propagates Evidence-Free Attack Scapegoating Undocumented Immigrants For Higher Crime Rates
Research ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL
Fox News' America Live repeated the accusation that undocumented immigrants have increased crime rates in Hazleton, Pennsylvannia. However, America Live failed to report that the there is no evidence supporting the accusation, or that there is no evidence that undocumented immigrants have higher crime rates nationwide.
Fox News Reports On Accusation That Undocumented Immigrants Increased The Crime Rate In Hazleton, PA ...
Gallagher: "City Leaders Say" Newcomers, Including Undocumented Immigrants, "Contributed To Pushing Up" The Crime Rate. On the June 7 edition of America Live, Trace Gallagher reported:
Hazleton has a population of 30,000. That population has grown by 10,000 over the past decade -- 33 percent, mostly Hispanic. Now, the city leaders say those people contributed to pushing up the cost of government services and the crime rate. They passed two ordinances: one, cracking down on businesses that hire illegals, and two, cracking down on landlords that rent to illegals. [Fox News, America Live, 6/7/11]
... But Failed To Note That The Evidence Undermines That Accusation
Times Leader: Officers Agreed That Increase In Crime Would Be Expected Due To Increase In Population, Yet Crime Rate Actually Decreased. The Wilkes Barre Times Leader reported:
[Then-Mayor of Hazelton, Louis] Barletta has said violent crime allegedly committed by illegal immigrants in the city is one of the major things that prompted him to propose the Relief Act ordinance and a related landlord/tenant registration ordinance last June.
On cross-examinations, plaintiff attorney Tom Fiddler got the officers to agree that an increase in population, such as the one Hazleton has seen since 2001, would lead them to expect an increase incrime and many gang members are not illegal immigrants.
Fiddler said gang activity and narcotic trafficking are national and international problems that are "independent of immigration issues. You're talking about a very small number (of crimes) that were allegedly committed by illegal aliens, whether you're talking about drug arrests or gang membership."
Fiddler noted that crime statistics provided by the city show that the crime rate in Hazleton has actually decreased since Hazleton saw its population increase from 23,000 in 2000 to 30,000 to 33,000 in 2006.
"The question is whether the problems the city has been faced with are a result of the number of undocumented persons coming into the city. If you look at the hard evidence, no relationship exists between the two," Fiddler said. [Wilkes Barre Times Leader, 3/22/07, via Nexis]
Hazleton Statistics Show Only 20 Of 8,575 Felonies Were Linked To Undocumented Immigrants. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in 2007:
[American Civil Liberties Union Lawyer, Watold] Walczak, though, said Hazleton's own statistics show that illegal immigrants have committed only a handful of serious crimes. Of the 8,575 felonies in the city since 2000, about 20 were linked to illegal immigrants, Mr. Walczak said. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/15/07]
CNN: Only "Four Of 428 Violent Crimes" Could "Be Connected To Illegal Immigrants." CNN reported:
In Hazleton, the mayor and his opponents went back and forth. Barletta claimed Latinos had driven up crime rates. LatinoJustice presented figures that showed crime had fallen since the arrival of the newcomers.
In 2007, a federal judge struck down the law as unconstitutional, putting the debate on hold so an appeal can work its way through the courts.
Cesar A. Perales, president of LatinoJustice, said that the trial debunked the accusation that illegal immigrants were increasing crime with testimony that showed that four of 428 violent crimes inHazleton in the last six years could be connected to illegal immigrants.
Back when the ordinance was passed, Barletta wore a bulletproof vest to the proceedings because of what he called a surge in crime by illegal immigrants. He pointed to a 75 percent drop in business at Mexican restaurants as a sign he was getting rid of illegal immigrants. [CNN.com, 12/16/09]
And Nationwide Studies Find Immigrants Are Less Likely To Be Incarcerated
Public Policy Institute Of California: "U.S.-Born Men Have An Institutionalization Rate That Is 10 Times Higher Than That Of Foreign-Born Men." In a February 2008 study, "Crime, Corrections, and California," the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found:
The difference only grows when we expand our investigation. When we consider all institutionalization (not only prisons but also jails, halfway houses, and the like) and focus on the population that is most likely to be in institutions because of criminal activity (men ages 18-40), we find that, in California, U.S.-born men have an institutionalization rate that is 10 times higher than that of foreign-born men (4.2% vs. 0.42%). And when we compare foreign-born men to U.S.-born men with similar age and education levels, these differences become even greater. [Public Policy Institute of California, 2/08]
PPIC: "[I]mmigrants Are Underrepresented In California Prisons." In its February 2008 study, PPIC found that "the foreign-born, who make up about 35 percent of the adult population in California, constitute only about 17 percent of the adult prison." According to PPIC:
[I]mmigrants are underrepresented in California prisons compared to their representation in the overall population. In fact, U.S.- born adult men are incarcerated at a rate over two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men. [Public Policy Institute of California, 2/08]
Immigration Policy Center: "[I]ncarceration Rates Among Young Men Are Lowest For Immigrants." According to a 2007 Immigration Policy Center (IPC) report, "data from the census and other sources show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated":
In fact, data from the census and other sources show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population. What is more, these patterns have been observed consistently over the last three decennial censuses, a period that spans the current era of mass immigration, and recall similar national-level findings reported by three major government commissions during the first three decades of the 20th century. The problem of crime in the United States is not "caused" or even aggravated by immigrants, regardless of their legal status.
Among men age 18-39 (who comprise the vast majority of the prison population), the 3.5 percent incarceration rate of the native-born in 2000 was 5 times higher than the 0.7 percent incarceration rate of the foreign-born. [Immigration Policy Center, 5/23/07]
Even "Low-Immigration" Think Tank Acknowledges There's No Evidence That Undocumented Immigrants Have Higher Crime Rates
CIS Acknowledges Claims Of High Crime Rates Among Undocumented Immigrants Are Not "Well Supported." The Center for Immigration Studies, which describes itself as a "low-immigration, pro-immigrant" research organization, writes on its website: "The data collected by the Center during the past quarter-century has led many of our researchers to conclude that current, high levels of immigration are making it harder to achieve such important national objectives as better public schools, a cleaner environment, homeland security, and a living wage for every native-born and immigrant worker." From the November 2009 CIS report:
Some opinion surveys show that the public thinks immigrants overall or illegal aliens in particular have high rates of crime. On the other hand, a number of academic researchers and journalists have argued that immigrants have low rates of crime. In our view, poor data quality and conflicting evidence mean that neither of these views is well supported. Given the limitations of the data available, it is simply not possible to draw a clear conclusion about immigrants and crime. [Center for Immigration Studies, 11/09, emphasis added; Center for Immigration Studies, accessed 6/1/11]