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Fact Sheet: Setting the Record Straight on Border Crime

Fact Sheet: Setting the Record Straight on Border Crime

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Ann Garcia examines crime rates along the southwest border and finds claims of a crime epidemic caused by undocumented immigrants are false.
Ann Garcia examines crime rates along the southwest border and finds claims of a crime epidemic caused by undocumented immigrants are false.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Jun 14, 2010
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1Center for American Progress | Fact Sheet: Setting the Record Straight on Border Crime
Fact Sheet: Setting the RecordStraight on Border Crime
Border States Are Safe Today and Only Getting Safer
Ann Garcia June 2010
Oceholders and candidaes in Arizona who suppor he sae’s draconian new immigraion law have jusied i wih hyperbole, exaggeraion, and alsehoodsabou Arizona’s crime rae. Gov. Jan Brewer has colored recenspeecheswihimages o “murder, error, and mayhem”and“drop houses, kidnappings, and violence,” which are all supposedly common in he lives o he erried Arizonapopulace. According o Sae Sen. Russell Pearce, who sponsored he law—imandaes ha police inerrogae people hey have “reasonable suspicion” are illegalimmigrans and demand producion o documenaion—ciies like Phoenix will become places wih “less crime” and “saer neighborhoods.” PearceclaimsPhoenix  is “second in he world in kidnappings and hird in he Unied Saes or violence.” Wih all he hype around a purpored crime epidemic caused by undocumenedimmigrans, i’s ironic ha newly released saisics rom Arizona’sDeparmeno Public Saey and heFBIshow ha violen crime raes in he sae and along he souhwes border region have been declining. In ac, is air o say he borderregion has become saer over he las ew years, and ha Arizona’s new law acu-ally undermines communiy saey.Le’s ake a closer look.
 The facts on crime in Arizona
•
Violent crimes in Arizona are down by 15 percent since 2006
:
Te FBI’s pre-liminary Uniorm Crime Repor , or UCR, or 2009 shows ha violen crime—murder, orcible rape, robbery, and aggravaed assaul—is down in Arizona
 
2Center for American Progress | Fact Sheet: Setting the Record Straight on Border Crime
or he hird year in a row. Te absolue number o violen crimes in 2006 was30,916 in Arizona. By 2009 i haddroppedby 15 percen o 26,094.
•
Per-capita violent crime rate dropped by 22 percent
:
Facoring in he changein Arizona’s populaion, he rae o violen crime per 100,000 persons in 2009 was 390.5, which is a 22 percen decrease rom 501.4 per 100,000 in 2006. Forcomparisons sake, he violen crime rae in nonborder saes such as Georgiaand ennessee was410.6and604.9respecively in 2009.
•
Arizona’s violent and property crime rate drop was twice the national aver-age
:
Naionally, violen and propery crimes were down beween 2008 and2009, bu Arizona saw raes o decline more han double ha. Te naion asa whole saw a -5.5 percen change in violen crime and -4.9 percen change inpropery crime rom 2008 o 2009, bu Arizona experienced a percen change o -11.1 in he ormer and -12 in he later in his same ime period.
•
Kidnappings are tied to Mexico’s organized crime syndicate, not innocentAmericans
:
I’s clear ha Arizona has an organized crime problem, wih 267kid-nappingsin 2009 in Phoenix alone. Bu he kidnappings mos oen occur whenhuman smugglers—who are usually par o Mexican drug carels—demandmore money or heir services. As Phoenix police Sg. ommy Tompsonsaid ,“We’re alking abou he kidnapping o smugglers and associaes. I have no earha my kids or grandkids will be vicims.” Tis means ha our efors mus bedireced oward wo rons: xing our broken immigraion sysem so ha peoplecan immigrae legally wih visas and no illegally wih smugglers, and helping oresolve he deadly war on drugs in Mexico.
A safer southwest border
•
Border cities are among the nation’s safest
:
Phoenix and oher large border(and near-border) ciies have some o he naion’slowescrime raes, includingSan Diego, El Paso, and Ausin.
•
Border counties have low violent crime rates
:
Counies along he souhwes border have some o he lowes raes o violen crime per capia in he naion.Teir raes have dropped by more han30 percensince he 1990s.
 
3Center for American Progress | Fact Sheet: Setting the Record Straight on Border Crime
•
There’s no evidence of “spillover” of violence from Mexico
:
El Paso, exas hashree bridges leading direcly ino Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where he number o killings has approached23,000since 2006. El Paso experienced only 12 mur-ders in 2009, which was acually down rom 17 in 2008. San Diego, Caliorniasaw 41 murders in 2009, down rom 55 in 2008, and ucson, Arizona expe-rienced 35 in 2009, a signican decrease rom he 65 murders commited in2008. Claims o spillover violence are clearly overblown.
•
High-immigrant cities are safer
:
Chrisopher Dickey, Paris bureau chie andMiddle Eas regional edior or
 Newsweek
 ,poins ouha, “San Anonio saw  violen crime drop rom 9,699 incidens o 7,844; murders rom 116 o 99.Compare ha wih a ciy like Deroi, which is a litle bigger han El Paso andmuch smaller han San Anonio—and no exacly a magne or job-seekingimmigrans. Is murder rae wen up rom 323 in 2008 o 361 in 2009.” Tisrecen patern alls righ in line wih he calculaions o im Wadsworh,sociologis rom he Universiy o Colorado a Boulder. In Wadsworh’srecensudy he concludes ha “ciies wih he larges increases in immigraion beween 1990 and 2000 experienced he larges decreases in homicide androbbery during he same ime period.”
Arizona law undermines community safety
•
Civilian cooperation will decrease
:
A delegaion o police chies rom majorciies in Arizona and across he counry meon May 26 wih Atorney GeneralEric Holder o make clear hey opposed he Arizona law because i would hurlocal law enorcemen efors. As Los Angeles Police Chie Charlie Beck said ollowing he meeing, “Tis is no a law ha increases public saey. Tis is a billha makes i much harder or us o do our jobs...crime will go up i his becomeslaw in Arizona or in any oher sae.” Ta’s because police need ull cooperaionrom residens—legal and oherwise—in order o solve and preven crime.
•
Immigrant communities will be marginalized
:
Arizona’s new law will “drive a wedge beween some communiies and law enorcemen” insead o reducingcrime,arguesRob Davis, police chie o San Jose, Caliornia. I will erode hemuual rus and cooperaion ha police have worked o develop and main-ain wih immigran communiies hroughou he years and insead alienaehese communiies.

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