On The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Laura Ingraham discussed the June 25 Supreme Court ruling striking down several parts of Arizona's immigration law. While talking to Chuck Rocha of the American Worker Latino Project, Ingraham used phony statistics to smear immigrants as criminals and fearmongered about an immigrant invasion that isn't happening.
While talking to Rocha, Ingraham implied immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans, citing anecdotes about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and concluding with the dubious claim that “13 or 12 people a day” “are killed under DUIs by illegals” :
INGRAHAM: A lot of these people just say, you know, look, my kids' school has crowded classrooms. Our health care costs are still ballooning. We just had this case just a few months ago in Chicago -- this guy wasn't deported. He ended up running over a 66-year-old insurance salesman -- 66-year-old man dead because this illegal immigrant was not reported to ICE, and he was never deported. We have people killed all over this country. Girls raped, little baby girls raped in Escondido, horrible story over the last six months. What do you say to those families?
ROCHA: I say to those families that you are talking about just a small portion of the immigrants who are here.
INGRAHAM: Doesn't feel small to the mother whose daughter was raped by an illegal immigrant, does it?
ROCHA: That's right. That person should be deported and should be dealt with by every extent of the law.
ROCHA: Let's be clear that we have 12 million immigrants that are in this nation. There's going to be a small portion of that just like a small portion who are here legally, who were born here --
INGRAHAM: Right, but the point is, they were born here. And crime is crime. But when people weren't supposed to be here in the first place, that crime would have never been committed. Isn't that the case?
ROCHA: That is the case to a certain extent.
INGRAHAM: No. To a -- that is the case. Is it not?
ROCHA: No, no. No, it's not the case. We have a broken system.
INGRAHAM: So the people -- the 13 or 12 people a day who are killed under DUIs by illegals -- those people would be alive if our immigration laws were enforced.
This would be indeed be shocking if true, since it would mean that almost half of DUI fatalities in the United States were caused by undocumented immigrants, who make up an estimated 4 percent of the population.
But it's not true. Ingraham is using a statistic manufactured by Rep. Steve King that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) debunked in 2007:
THE FACTS: King claimed he had “extrapolated” his numbers from a study by the General Accounting Office, Congress' nonpartisan investigative arm, that he said showed 28% of inmates in local jails and state and federal prisons were “criminal aliens.” What the GAO study actually showed was that 28% of all federal prisoners (federal prisoners make up 12%-17% of the total incarcerated population in the U.S.) were either legal or illegal immigrants. The study did not distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants. It also stated that about 50% of those immigrants were only charged with being in the country illegally, a federal misdemeanor. Just 12% of the total in federal custody were there for murder, rape, robbery or other violent crimes.
On the same page, the SPLC also debunked the notion that “undocumented immigrants are more criminal than natives,” citing a study that actually found that “homicide rates were significantly lower for Latinos [in a group of U.S. border cities] than for other groups.” Even the Center for Immigration Studies, a “low-immigration” think tank, acknowledges that there is “no clear evidence” that immigrants commit crimes at a higher rate.
Earlier in the segment, Ingraham had pushed another distortion after asking Rocha if he thought U.S. borders “are being properly enforced.” Ingraham went on to claim: “Well, there are about a million people a year still cross[ing] the border every year into the United States. Do you think that's a tenable situation?”
This is very misleading. The net migration between the U.S. and Mexico is actually now zero -- and may actually be negative. A Pew Research Center report from April 2012 stated: “The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill. After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants -- most of whom came illegally -- the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed.” The report included this graphic: