Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

Election season in Texas means we are bombarded by political ads telling us that crime is on the rise, that our borders are porous, and that, whether stated explicitly or by implication, the two are related. 

Is crime really on the rise? The violent crime rate in the US reached an historic high in 1991 (758/100,000) and has declined precipitously since. By 2014, the rate had been cut in half (370/100,000—51%). Since that year it has increased slightly to where, in 2021, it was 47% of the peak (400/100,000). So yes, it is on the rise, but not as political ads would have us believe.

Is unauthorized immigration on the rise? In 1990, an estimated 3.5 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the United States. That number reached a peak of 12.2 million in 2007 and has declined to 11.4 million in 2018. So, during the same period that crime decreased by roughly 50%, unauthorized immigration rose by 71%. 

Is there a relationship between crime and unauthorized immigration? It has long been known that the crime rate among immigrants is about half the rate of crime among native born citizens, only reaching parity in the third generation. But what about unauthorized immigrants? Are they rapists, murderers, and drug dealers as Trump asserted? No. That was an egregious lie. A paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined the crime rate in Texas among native-born citizens, legal immigrants, and undocumented immigrants during the years 2012 to 2018. (https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2014704117).

The authors summarize: “Contrary to public perception, we observe considerably lower felony arrest rates among undocumented immigrants compared to legal immigrants and native-born US citizens and find no evidence that undocumented criminality has increased in recent years. Our findings help us understand why the most aggressive immigrant removal programs have not delivered on their crime reduction promises and are unlikely to do so in the future.”(emphasis mine.) More specifically, “Relative to undocumented immigrants, US-born citizens are over 2 times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and over 4 times more likely to be arrested for property crimes. In addition, the proportion of arrests involving undocumented immigrants in Texas was relatively stable or decreasing over this period.” 

While crime was rising, the rate of crime remained flat among immigrants. It was among the native-born US citizens in Texas that a rise in crime was observed. Texas has spent billions on border security programs ostensibly to reduce crime, to no effect because the migrants that the programs target are not criminals. 

Texas has spent a lot of tax-payer money to bus migrants to cities such as Boston, Chicago, and New York, so called “sanctuary cities” in blue states. In MAGA-speak, this stunt “owns the libs,” whatever the hell that means. Those cities to which Texas is sending non-criminals, have lower than average crime rates already. An influx of unauthorized immigrants will mean a net increase in safety in those cities and a net decrease in Texas (https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/crime-rate-by-state, https://www.thirdway.org/report/the-red-state-murder-problem).

I can’t say this strongly enough: The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, is using a vile, inhumane ploy to screw Texas and Texans. Immigrants make us safer. Greg Abbott makes us unsafe.

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