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Immigration and Crime in Arizona

Jul 6, 2016 | Crime Statistics, Immigration

If you listen to some politicians, you might conclude that much of the crime in Arizona, and in the entire country, is the result of illegal immigration. But with access to more and more information, it has become easier to expose nonsense that is sometimes spewed out in the media.

Here’s an example. Back in March, Arizona Representative Sonny Borelli (R – District 5) was citing some (alleged) statistics relating to Senate Bill 1070, passed in 2010. SB 1070, you may recall, mandates that law enforcement determine the immigration status of any person who is arrested or detained, if the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that the person is in not legally in the country. Supporters of that law referred to it as a “Safe Neighborhoods Act,” while others declared that it created a new crime – driving while brown. In any event, Rep. Borelli stated that “[a]fter 1070, crime dropped 78%.”

Wow, we thought. The anti-immigration folks are right. Crime is caused by illegal immigrants who – in addition to taking all our jobs – are committing all the crimes. Well, we’ve got to back up a minute. When the Representative was challenged on the stats he quoted, he backed up too. He said that the decline in crime wasn’t 78%, it was 43%. Well, he was off by a lot, but that’s still a pretty serious number. That assumes, of course, that it’s true, which it isn’t.

Don’t believe everything you hear

The question, of course, is where the man got his figures. He says they came from The Arizona DPS, from the Phoenix PD, and, from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Well, maybe somebody somewhere told him something, but here’s what the actual numbers look like, according to DPS: crime in Arizona is down by 9% since 2010. And the next question, going back again to Rep. Borelli’s statement, is the implicit conclusion that any decline in Arizona crime was due to the passage of SB 1070.

The truth is that crime has been on the decline nationwide for a while now. Between 2010 and 2014, for example, here are the numbers:

  • Property crime – down 9%
  • Violent crime – down by 4%
  • Total crime – down by 8%

So there you have it. The decline in the crime rate in Arizona is about the same as in the country as a whole. And in the other 49 states, there is no SB 1070. We’ll leave you with one final fact: according to a recent study (The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States), immigrants are actually less likely to commit a crime than native-born Americans!

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