WSJ: Steve King's Anti-Immigrant Claim “Is Not Politically Incorrect. It's Simply Incorrect”

During a radio interview with Rep. Steve King -- the Republican congressman from Iowa whose comments likening undocumented immigrants to drug smugglers continue to draw fire -- Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said she understood what he was saying but that he “could've worded it differently.” She added: “I think you have to be smarter in the way you use your language.”

Ingraham went on to accuse media outlets of refusing to cover crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and cited a number of such cases to suggest a link between violent crime and immigrants in the country illegally.

Following the interview, she addressed calls for him to apologize and asked: “Is he right in refusing to back down on this and give in to the PC pressure from the left and right? Is Steve King right on this or not -- to apologize?”

In fact, as The Wall Street Journal reported, King's suggestion that most undocumented immigrants are drug smugglers “is not politically incorrect. It's simply incorrect.”

In a July 18 interview with Newsmax, King attacked undocumented youths known as DREAMers -- those who were brought into the country illegally and are younger than 35 -- claiming that for every one who's a valedictorian, there are another 100 who “weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

While the comments have received widespread condemnation from congressional Republicans, some in the conservative media have defended King, saying that “the facts back King up,” in the words of's Matthew Boyle.

But as the Journal noted, the facts do not back King up:

Mr. King and other immigration restrictionists have long claimed that illegal immigrants drive crime in the U.S., even though studies continue to show that the foreign-born, regardless of their legal status, commit crimes at disproportionately lower rates than U.S. natives.

The Journal went on to cite the Immigration Policy Center, which noted that as immigration, both legal and illegal, increased, “FBI data indicates that the violent crime rate declined 45 percent and the property crime rate fell 42 percent. The decline in crime rates was not just national, but also occurred in cities with large immigrant populations such as San Diego, El Paso, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami.”

The Journal concluded: “If anything, today's immigrants are less likely to been involved in criminal activity than their predecessors,” adding:

So while it is certainly true that illegal immigrants broke the law to get here, the evidence does not show that they drive crime rates after they arrive. Mr. King's suggestion otherwise is not politically incorrect. It's simply incorrect.

Conservative media have repeatedly tried to link immigrants to violent crime, even as studies confirm that such a link is false.

In a July 25 article on “setting the record straight on immigrants and crime,” the Immigration Policy Center reported that “numerous studies over the past 100 years have shown” that “immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are not associated with higher rates of crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the undocumented, regardless of their country of origin or level of education.”

IPC included these graphs on undocumented immigrants and violent crime rates, clearly showing there is no correlation between increased immigration and violent crime:

An ABC News fact check examining whether fear of immigrant criminals was overblown similarly noted:

In addition, first-generation immigration appear to be less likely to commit violent crimes, according to a study by Robert Sampson, the chair of the sociology department at Harvard University. That's people here both with and without papers.

The study looked at violent acts committed by those ages 8-25 in Chicago between 1995 and 2003. First-generation immigrants were 45 percent less likely to commit violent acts compared to third-generation Americans.


A 2007 study by sociologist Rubén G. Rumbaut looked at incarceration rates among men ages 18 to 39, who make up the bulk of the prison population.

Rumbaut found that 3.5 percent of native-born men were in prison in 2000, compared to 0.7 percent of immigrant men.

In a July 26 article specifically debunking the “real absurdity in King's quote,” the New Republic wrote that no one “could conceivably carry 75 pounds of pot” and included this picture to illustrate what that would look like: