The truth about Arizona illegal immigrants and crime

Arizona governor Jan Brewer justified signing the new Arizona anti-illegal immigrant legislation by claiming it was needed due to a crime wave those illegal immigrants are supposedly perpetrating, and she wasn’t the only one offering that assertion.

But if she really wants to cut back on crime, she should bring in more illegals – the data show they are associated with reduced crime levels, not an increase.

Here’s Governor Brewer in her own words:

“Border violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state. There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of the drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life.”

According to Arizona’s medieval Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he’s been successful at driving illegal immigrants out of his Maricopa County jurisdiction. Arpaio told CNN that his deputies have already been routinely checking immigration status of those they apprehend, and he hears that illegals have largely fled the area as a result.

Yet Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce told CNN that he believes half the murders in Phoenix are committed by unauthorized immigrants and that the city is the second in the world in kidnappings – implying that this is also the work of illegals. But Phoenix is in Maricopa County, where Sheriff Arpaio supposedly has illegals on the run. Just who is committing all those crimes?

Fortunately we have numbers to look at and analyze, so we don’t have to rely on contradictory claims and those whose political aspirations depend on feeding and then pandering to ignorant citizen’s darkest fears.

First, let’s look at how many illegal immigrants there are in Arizona, and how that number has changed over the years.

arizona illegal immigrant population

From 1992 to 2008 the number of illegals in Arizona increased five-fold, from just about 100,000 to approximately 560,000 before dropping by 100,000 or so as the economy tanked. (Over that same period, Arizona’s total population increased from just over 3.8 million to around 6.5 million.)

Of course these numbers for illegals are estimates, it is very difficult to get an exact count, but there is enough closeness in the estimates from different organizations using differing methodology that the numbers are probably reliable. So let’s all agree that the number of illegals in Arizona has risen significantly over the past two decades.

But what about Arizona crime? Has it also skyrocketed, as the governor and other supporters of a crackdown have asserted? No. In fact, since 1995 when illegal immigrant numbers began to climb the crime rate has steadily declined!

arizona crime rates update

The evidence from these data is clear and convincing: the more illegal immigrants there are, the lower the crime rate.

We shouldn’t dismiss the stated intentions of Governor Brewer and Senator Pearce or their fellow travelers. Let us assume that they are seriously concerned with crime and want to reduce it. Arizona’s legislature and governor must act, then, not by driving illegals away but by bringing them in. They should immediately pass a “Welcome Illegals Program” and help continue to drive down the crime rate.

Or alternatively, they could pass a law excluding all legal citizens from the state. Draconian, certainly, but sure to be effective. Joe Arpaio has already chased the illegals out of Phoenix, so the major crime wave in the city described by Sen Pearce must stem from crimes committed by citizens – because there aren’t any illegals around anymore.

Can enough political will be mustered by decent people in Arizona to take on the American crime cartel and drive them from the state, so law-abiding illegals can live in peace?

¡Si, Se Puede!

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13 responses to “The truth about Arizona illegal immigrants and crime

  1. hipparchia

    now you’re just confusing correlation and causation.

    not to mention that you’re also essentially advocating for giving arizona back to mexico.

    2 for 2, i ‘d say. nicely played!

    • grahamfirchlis

      Irony compounded with sarcasm, one does what one can. Somehow I don’t think any of it will register with the loony-bin brigade.

  2. The Other Sarah

    I’m about ready, if my fellow Texicans are so stupid they reselect w2 this fall, to advocate for having Mexico take back everything they lost in 1848 … as bad as the economy of Mexico is, they do have a sensible national health care plan.

    • grahamfirchlis

      I’m not at all sure they’d have us right now. Too many gringos, all the time complaining, who needs the trouble, and besides they’re lazy and don’t speak the language.

      Slowly, slowly the Mexicans are taking back what was taken from them. Another generation and all of Aztlán will be majority Latino. Hopefully then we’ll get the best of both worlds, with decent UHC and a lot more feast days and much better Mexican food. Totally worth it just for decent tamales. ¡Viva la Fiesta!

  3. Evidently, you must NOT live in AZ or Tex or any other state w/high levels of crime due to illegals. This is real and NOT embellished!! I am working on an article SUPPORTING this SB 1070 legislature and I am adding your email to it so expect a hard-hitting response to your crap and all of thos “others” against this strong stand that FINALLY a state has stood up against this invasion from Mexico.

    • grahamfirchlis

      nuked, I welcome your comments and look forward to any rebuttal. A healthy dialogue is always beneficial.

      FYI, I live in California. We have far more illegals than TX and AZ combined. For the most part they are decent hardworking honest and beneficial contributors to both our economy and our culture. While there are some criminals, just as in Arizona the crime rate is higher among US citizens than it is within the illegal community and further, what criminality does occur with illegals is mostly them preying on other illegals. The number of crimes committed by illegals against US citizens isn’t even a rounding error compared to our overall crime, most of which is driven by cruel and counterproductive social policies that result in hopeless poverty, poor education, indecent health care levels and improvident failure to ensure adequate childhood nutrition. Tossing out illegals will do nothing to address those massive, system-wide debacles.

      Maybe things are different in AZ. I’m sure you’ll try to educate me on that and I do try to keep an open mind, but I doubt it.

  4. The Other Sarah

    well, nukedboomer, I’ll join my buddy Graham in awaiting your responses.

    I live in Texas. We have a fair number of immigrants here, some undocumented, some with unreliable documents, and some who have in fact come in legally from places like Mexico and Ireland and Germany and Guatemala.

    Been my experience that those who are undocumented immigrants aren’t nearly so likely to commit crimes as to be victims of criminals.

  5. Pingback: Watching the Watchers: Obama’s real reason for sending troops to the border « Whenceforth Progress

  6. Mexico lost the war, they should get over it. Now they want to abandon their corrupt nation and bring their backwards ways here. Great. Just what we need.

    Let’s hope this ends without bloodshed.

    • grahamfirchlis

      Jay, I suggest that American citizens set a good example for those backwards Mexicans by “getting over” the other war that happened at about the same time, our own Civil War. Until the Confederate sympathizers among us can manage that, accepting fully that their side lost and putting it aside, it is hypocritical to expect it of anyone else.

      Do you really think Mexico is more corrupt than the US? I should say rather they are just more open about it. The systematic corruption of our government by the Reactionary Right over the last 30 years has allowed the rich to take from the rest of us to the point that we have the greatest disparity of wealth since 1929, and destruction of our public health and safety regulatory structure for the sake of corporate profits brought us the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, one murderous mining disaster after another, and the largest ecological disaster in American history.

      I say we need to be worried about fixing our own corruption, not Mexico’s, and whatever influence might be made by a few thousand illegal immigrants – none to speak of, as the data above show – is nothing compared to the systematic corruption of our government by the rich who are exploiting people like you and I to the point of destroying America.

      Also, one special point. These adolescent threats of bloodshed are something you want to be very careful of making. Should it come to that again, as in 1861-65 the rebellious faction are going to be very surprised at who all have weapons and know how to use them. We kicked the shit out of people who thought like that once before, and if we have to we’ll do it again.

  7. blacksheepone

    Jay,
    I’ve heard that said about the CSA with the ascendancy of Southern Republicans in National Politics.
    But what you’re saying about Mexico suggests you’ve never been there, or met anybody from there, firsthand. I’d ask you to think hard about not tarring so many good folks with such a broad brush, eh?

  8. Illegals are not committing crimes because they don’t want to be sent back home. I cannot believe that your OK with people, no matter where they come from, breaking the laws of our country. You should do some reading about how other countries REALLY feel about Americans. They don’t want to be here because they love America and believe in our Constitution. They are here for the money they can make. You need to get real about what your saying. If you don’t love this country and all the things that have made it what it is, then why are you here. Leave.

  9. John Rambo

    Love it or leave it, right? If only the world was that black and white. Perhaps it is for those who are ignorant. Have you ever exceeded the speed limit? If so, you broke the law. Laws, the constitution, all of it were created by man and have flaws. Hence, that is why we can change what doesn’t work. Do you believe in blacks not being equal to whites? Our constitution is far from perfect, but it works. We have amended the constitution in the past, perhaps we will do it again? Your blind faith in a document is pure ignorance. I’m guessing you are a religious person.

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