September 25, 2018

Honesty on Immigrants and Crime

This weekend’s Los Angeles Times had the distressing“>impressed that he is revealing “truths” that others are too timid or “politically correct” to trumpet. Trump’s announcement of his candidacy included the following comments,

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best….they’re sending people that have lots of problems. And they’re bringing those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. [emphasis added]

During his most recent speeches, apparently sensing that he has struck a responsive chord, he has doubled down on immigration issues and vowed to build a “great wall” to keep out immigrants from the southern border.

Clearly, there is a widely held notion that there is a disproportionate share of crime committed by illegal immigrants, a large percentage of whom are Hispanic. There are some pundits who inadvertently buy into Trump’s assertions by offering the counter rationale that poverty and racism contribute to the “disproportionate” incidence of crime in the Hispanic community.

But, in fact, there is likely no such “disproportionate” crime rate among Hispanic immigrants. An email this morning brought a message from an unusual source debunking the conventional wisdom about crime and Hispanic immigrants.

Ron Unz, a very conservative commentator and entrepreneur who established a successful software business and headed The American Conservative magazine for several years (2007-2013) wrote to focus attention on a lengthy analysis he did several years ago of crime data in “The Myth of Immigrant Crime.”

His lengthy article which can be accessed “>reported that over half of all federal prosecutions are for immigration related offenses) which, as Unz points out, would likely distort federal ethnic imprisonment statistics.

Not surprisingly, Unz finds that outside of the Northeast (where Trump comes from),

We discover that the remaining imprisonment ratios move into close parity with white incarceration rates. Since Hispanics are considerably poorer than whites, this is a striking result. Also, crime rates are always higher in densely populated urban areas than in suburbs or rural communities, and since Hispanics are three times as likely as whites to live in cities, their relatively low imprisonment rates become even more surprising.

Parenthetically, the numbers that seem to skew some of the data emanate from the Northeast. They likely result from,

The New York/New England region, in which relative Hispanic imprisonment rates generally run two to three times higher than the national Hispanic average. There exceptionally high Hispanic incarceration rates probably reflect the considerable social and economic difficulties long experienced by Puerto Rican and Dominican communities that have settled in the region.

As Unz concludes, “the evidence presented here powerfully refutes the widespread popular belief that America’s Hispanics have high crime rates. Instead, their criminality seems to fall near the center of the white national distribution, being somewhat higher than white New Englanders but somewhat lower than white Southerners. Taken as a whole, the mass of statistical evidence constitutes strong support for the “null hypothesis,” namely that Hispanics have approximately the same crime rates as whites of the same age.”

Given Unz’s background in statistics and analysis (his Wall Street firm was called Wall Street Analytics) his sifting through the noise and complicated data warrant consideration.

The facile blaming of immigrants who speak a different language and stand out when arrested is both morally and factually wrong and his research shows why. He doesn’t quote Scripture or otherwise try to demagogue this tough issue, he just cites facts, and they are compelling.