On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy and guest Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County, Virginia, board of supervisors, falsely claimed that the county's controversial immigration law reduced violent crime and has never been altered. In fact, Prince William County's violent crime rates actually increased in 2009; the law was modified in 2008 to avoid legal challenges; and a University of Virginia study of the law shows that it has not led to a reduction in crime.
Doocy falsely claimed immigration law led to a “reduction in violent crimes” and an overall “huge drop in crime”
Doocy falsely claims immigration law led to “38 percent reduction in violent crimes.” On the June 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Doocy introduced Stewart by claiming, “Three years ago, Prince William County in Virginia passed major immigration reform, and they've since seen a huge drop in crime.” Doocy later said to Stewart, “Let's take a look at some of the changes in Prince William County since this law went into place -- 38 percent reduction in violent crimes.” The law in question requires police officers to inquire about the immigration status of those persons who have been placed under arrest.
In fact, Prince William County's violent crime rate increased 10.9 percent in 2009. According to Prince William County Police Department crime statistics, in 2009, the county saw a 10.9 percent increase in violent crimes. The county's “overall crime rate” decreased by 1.9 percent from the previous year. The law first went into effect in 2008, during which time the county saw an increase in its overall crime rate and a reduction in violent crimes versus the year prior.
Prince William County's 2009 overall lowered crime rate is credited as being “part of a trend that started long before” the immigration bill. In a National Review Online post, John J. Miller wrote: “As it happens, crime rates have been going down for a long time in Prince William County. The latest numbers are part of a trend that started long before the county took a stand against illegal immigration.” Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane reportedly noted that crime rates have been decreasing nationwide and that Prince William County's rates were consistent with that trend. According to The Washington Post, Deane said, " 'I also think, nationwide, crime rates are declining, and I'm pleased we've continued to see' that in the county, too."
“Illegal aliens” only account for a small percentage of crimes and arrests, and the vast majority of those arrested were for “misdemeanor or traffic charges.” The reports show that those suspected of being “illegal aliens” account for only a small percentage of total crimes. In 2008, "[o]f all persons arrested or summonsed in Prince William County, 1.7% were determined to lack legal status," while “86.9% of those suspected to be illegal aliens were arrested on misdemeanor or traffic charges.” In 2009, "[o]f all persons arrested or summonsed in Prince William County, 2.2% were determined to lack legal status," while “87.5% of those suspected to be illegal aliens were arrested on misdemeanor or traffic charges.”
UVA study: "[T]he policy has not reduced most forms of crime in PWC." The University of Virginia (UVA) studied the effects of the law on Prince William County crime rates and concluded, “Overall, our descriptive assessment of PWCPD data on crime reports and arrests suggests that the policy has not reduced most forms of crime in PWC and that its contribution to the County's drop in serious violence has likely been modest.” A May 7 Washington Post article cited the UVA study and reported that “the study also said that it seems unlikely that the county's drop in violent crime was because of the policy, because illegal immigrants make up a small percentage of those arrested for such crimes.”
Doocy lets guest falsely claim that the “law stands today as it was written in 2007”
Doocy allows Stewart to falsely claim that the “law stands today as it was written in 2007.” After Doocy asked Stewart about legal challenges to the law, Stewart falsely claimed that “the federal district court in Arlington, Virginia, threw [a court challenge to the bill] out on its face -- threw the challenge out on its face -- and the law stands today as it was written in 2007.”
In fact, the “ordinance was modified in 2008 amid charges that it was unconstitutional.” Contrary to Stewart's claim that “the law stands today as it was written in 2007,” The Washington Post reported:
The Prince William ordinance was modified in 2008 amid charges that it was unconstitutional and could lead to racial profiling. In the end, rather than questioning only people they suspected of being undocumented immigrants, officers were directed to question all criminal suspects about their immigration status once an arrest was made.