Truth or Hysteria?
When I read the July 24 letter stating that “evil illegals” have “absolutely no right to be here” because they want to “harm us in any way they can,” I was stunned. Where do these ideas come from? Is there a shred of evidence that any or all of these accusations are true? Or is this just fear-mongering hysteria?
USA Today provides at least a partial answer in its July 15 “Special Report: Crime Along the Border.” USA Today collected crime data over a decade from 1,600 law enforcement agencies, federal crime statistics and border interviews.
Their analysis found that crime rates started declining even before the United States expanded the fence along the border states. In fact, crime rates in border cities are lower than the national average. This data concurs with other sources.
In Arizona, the state’s overall crime rate dropped 12 percent in 2009, and between 2004 and 2008, it decreased by 23 percent (Tim Pagett, “The ‘Dangerous’ Border: Actually One of America’s Safest Places,” Time, July 30, 2010.)
Research from the American Immigration Law Foundation shows that the incarceration rate for native-born men ages 18-39 has been five times higher than the rate for immigrant men. Even with increased immigration, the violent crime rate in the United States has declined 34.2 percent, and the property crime rate has fallen 26.4 percent.
The USA Today report included statements from elected officials: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s warning of human skulls rolling through the desert; Texas Rep. John Culberson (saying) the U.S. side of the border is “out of control”; and Michigan Rep. Candice Miller suggesting a military brigade be sent to protect Americans. These statements clearly are misrepresentations of the truth.
So what are the facts? You decide. And to Emily Kent’s question, “Where is this country going?” You decide.
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