Sean Hannity Cites Faulty, Months-Old Statistics To Claim Immigrants Commit 38% Of Murders

Sean Hannity Cites Faulty, Months-Old Statistics To Claim Immigrants Commit 38% Of Murders

››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN & CYDNEY HARGIS

Sean Hannity echoed a previously debunked statistic to claim that 38 percent of all murder convictions in some states are committed by undocumented immigrants. The claim appears to have originated on the conservative news site Breitbart.com, and has been debunked by PolitiFact for relying on a flawed study from the conservative Center for Security Policy.

Sean Hannity Claims That Undocumented Immigrants Were Convicted Of More Than A Third Of All Murders Between 2008-2014 In Some States

Sean Hannity: "Criminal Aliens Account For 38 Percent Of All Murder Convictions." On the October 26 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity claimed that "criminal aliens account for 38 percent of all murder convictions" in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California:

SEAN HANNITY: It keeps coming back up, the issue of that you have said that anybody who entered this law illegally and didn't respect our laws and sovereignty has to go back and then you'd expedite the process and bring them back. Those that are law abiding, that want to be a part of our country and contribute. Now, the numbers are staggering. ... The Texas Department of Public Safety pointed out that foreign aliens committed 611,000 unique crimes in Texas between 2008 and 2014. That includes thousands of homicide[s]. And between those very same years, if you look at the murder rates in Florida and Texas, Arizona, California, criminal aliens account for 38 percent of all murder convictions and they're 5.6 percent of the population. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/26/15]

Sean Hannity's False Statistic That Immigrants Commit 38 Percent Of All Murders Appears To Have Been Based On Right-Wing Blog That Cited Flawed Statistics

Breitbart: "Criminal Aliens" Account "For Over 30 Percent Of Murders In Many States." In an August 8 Breitbart.com article, conservative pundit Tom Tancredo claimed that "criminal aliens accounted for 38% of all murder convictions in the five states of California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and New York" between 2008 and 2014. Tancredo cited statistics from the Center for Security Policy and the Texas Department of Public Safety:

  • Between 2008 and 2014, 40% of all murder convictions in Florida were criminal aliens. In New York it was 34% and Arizona 17.8%.
  • During those years, criminal aliens accounted for 38% of all murder convictions in the five states of California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and New York, while illegal aliens constitute only 5.6% of the total population in those states
  • That 38% represents 7,085 murders out of the total of 18,643.

That 5.6% figure for the average illegal alien population in those five states comes from US Census estimates. We know the real number is double that official estimate. Yet, even if it is 11%, it is still shameful that the percentage of murders by criminal aliens is more than triple the illegal population in those states.

Those astounding numbers were compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) using official Department of Justice data on criminal aliens in the nation's correctional system. The numbers were the basis for a presentation at a recent New Hampshire conference sponsored by the highly respected Center for Security Policy.

[...]

Similar data is available at the state level if state officials have the desire to look for it. The Texas Department of Public Safety reports that between 2008 and 2014, 35% of the all murder convictions were illegal aliens--averaging 472 murders each year from 2004 to 2008. [Breitbart, 8/8/15]

PolitiFact Debunked The Claim Months Before Hannity Parroted It

PolitiFact Found "Serious Glitches" With Claim That "Criminal Aliens Accounted For 38 Percent Of All Murder Convictions" In Some States. In an August 17 fact-check, PolitiFact rated as false Tancredo's claim that "criminal aliens accounted for 38 percent of all murder convictions" in five states. PolitiFact stated that Tancredo's statistics were based on a "botched summary" of a presentation done by conservative think tank Center for Security Policy, and noted that the presentation's author insisted that Tancredo "'quoted the whole thing incorrectly.'" And the presentation itself relied on questionable "underlying data," as it does not provide "an accurate look at the percentage of murders committed by criminal aliens in those five states," according to PolitiFact:

Several readers asked us to look into Tancredo's core statement that between 2008 and 2014, "criminal aliens accounted for 38 percent of all murder convictions in the five states of California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and New York."

There are serious glitches in his claim. He botches the takeaway of the presentation, which has plenty of issues on its own.

[...]

He said "criminal aliens" accounted for 38 percent of murder convictions in five states between 2008 and 2014.

In fact, the presentation offered numbers for 2005 to 2008.

That's not the only issue. The presentation's author, James Simpson, told us he had emailed Breitbart about Tancredo's use of his presentation. "(Tancredo) quoted the whole thing incorrectly," Simpson told PunditFact.

Our research found that even if Tancredo had quoted the presentation as it was given, there would still be plenty of concern about its accuracy.

[...]

Simpson's report includes findings from two separate sources: an article that describes 2008-14 data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, and his digest of a 2011 Government Accountability Office report, which uses 2005-08 numbers.

We got into the weeds of each source, and the fact is neither provides an accurate look at the percentage of murders committed by criminal aliens in those five states.

The real figure may be impossible to know; Texas appears to be the only one of the five states that actually keeps track of convictions of criminal aliens. The "criminal aliens" label applies to noncitizens who have either legal or illegal immigration status. (It is incorrect to consider all of them as illegal immigrants.)

[...]

Tancredo said that between 2008 and 2014, over one-third of the murder convictions in Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Texas were committed by illegal immigrants. The man who presented the data Tancredo cites said Tancredo "quoted the whole thing incorrectly."

Tancredo used the wrong time period. He thought the baseline number was homicide convictions when it was actually all homicides. Most important of all, he took the presentation he relied on at face value and ignored the hard numbers available from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

And while Tancredo might not have known it, the researcher whose work he used himself has questions about the underlying data he used. We have hard data from Texas that refutes the big and estimated numbers Tancredo used. Undocumented immigrants do commit murder, but perhaps only one-fifth as often as Tancredo said. [PolitiFact, 8/17/15]

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