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Where is the Crime Wave? June 3, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Criminal Justice, Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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One of the conservative justifications for Arizona’s new immigration law, which enables the police to roust undocumented immigrants just for being undocumented, is that Arizona is suffering under a crushing crime wave instigated by the influx from Mexico. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) called these crimes “terrorist attacks.”

last week, the FBI released its preliminary Uniform Crime Report for 2009; it is hard to find evidence of a crime wave. As reported in the Wall St. Journal:

Violent crime fell significantly last year in cities across the U.S., according to preliminary federal statistics, challenging the widely held belief that recessions drive up crime rates.

The incidence of violent crimes such as murder, rape and aggravated assault was down 5.5% from 2008, and 6.9% in big cities. It fell 2.4% in long-troubled Detroit and plunged 16.6% in Phoenix, despite a perception of rising crime that has fueled an immigration backlash.

The early figures, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, indicate a third straight year of decreases, along with a sharply accelerating rate of decline.

And the report shows many other cities in the Southwest have seen similar reductions, including El Paso Texas which is just across the border from the drug war in Juarez.

Last week, The Arizona Department of Public Safety released its crime report as well. The trend toward decreasing crime rates includes 3 of the 4 counties that border Mexico. The trend holds even along the border: three of Arizona’s four border counties reported less violent crime in 2009 than they did in 2002, when crime statistics were first made available on the Internet.

One exception is Maricopa County where Joe Arpaio   “America’s Toughest Sheriff” resides. Arpaio is famous for making immigration enforcement a priority and using violence and intimidation to get results.

Some results. Via Dara Lind, although crime in Maricopa dropped from 2008 levels, since 2002 it has increased 58%!

One of the arguments against Arizona’s new immigration law is that making immigration enforcement a priority will actually increase crime because anyone who looks Latino (or Latina) will avoid cooperating with police. In fact, many police chiefs and sheriffs in Arizona were opposed to the law for that reason.

Sheriff Joe may be making their argument for them. And if crime goes up subsequent to the law being enforced, what conclusion should we draw?

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com



1. Asur - June 4, 2010

The issue isn’t whether a law should be enforced and obeyed — all laws should, at all times, within context — but whether a law should exist.

The justification for this one is derived from the justification for a restricted rather than open border. If such restriction is justified, then enforcement of it is also justified.

2. Paul J. Moloney - June 4, 2010

The law is an injustice to the citizens of the state. No justice has ever come through injustice.

Asur - June 4, 2010

I appreciate your brevity.

Relative to each other, the lesser of two evils is a good; hence, in the same context, pursuing the lesser injustice is the pursuit of justice itself.

There is your justice through injustice.

3. Paul J. Moloney - June 4, 2010

Also, if the law is based on racial prejudice so too will be its enactment.

Also, even if illegal immigration were an injustice to the people of the state, the law is a greater injustice, which is indicated by the civil unrest it is causing. Justice has never been known to be a cause of civil unrest.

Also, if illegal immigration were an injustice to the people of the state, it is unreasonable to make the citizens of the state pay for that injustice. It is tyrants who are unjust to their own people.

4. Paul J. Moloney - June 5, 2010

It is absolutely impossible that the lesser of two evils is a good. Evil and good are contraries and opposites. A lesser evil remains a lesser evil, even in relation to a greater evil. In fact, it is considered lesser only in relation to a greater evil. They are relative in regards to lesser and greater. If this were not so, evil and good would be the same. Likewise, since injustice and justice are opposites one cannot come through the other. A lesser injustice remains an evil. Lesser and greater do not change the nature of anything. Taller and shorter are forms of greater and lesser. The taller man is just as much a man as the shorter man. Tallness of stature does not turn a man into a giraffe. Therefore, being lesser does not turn an evil into a good.

Also, the same is true of this law. There is no distinction being made between legal resident and illegal immigrant. The legality of citizenship is not being taken into consideration. The citizen is being treated as if they were not a citizen. If this true, the illegal immigrant should be treated as if they were a citizen, but this will never happen because the law is a contradiction in legal terms. The citizen is being treated as an illegal immigrant because both have in common a Latino or Hispanic origin. The legal status of the citizen is being ignored. To disregard the legal status of a citizen is an injustice. It is hard, if not impossible, not to think that this law is a result of racial prejudice.

Also, to discriminate against the people of one’s own state or country is not only unjust but unpatriotic.

Also, even if there is criminal activity among illegals, an unjust law will only promote more. Criminal activity is an injustice as is an unjust law, and injustice promotes injustice. It is justice that destroys injustice.

Asur - June 5, 2010

You are confused: Tallness and shortness are indeed instances of the greater and the lesser, but the object they are pointing to is height, not the quality of being a man (which itself does not subsume a notion of height). This is why they have no bearing on whether a thing is or is not a man, as you observed.

As for good and evil, the same action can be good in one context and evil in another; this would not be possible if they were absolutes, as you imply them to be. Rather, to accommodate this, good and evil must be relative concepts.

Although you are correct that the lesser of two evils is an evil (we did, after all, just identify them as ‘two evils’), this is only in context to an implicitly assumed third state that is better than each of them.

If, however, we consider them in context to each other, the less evil choice is better than the more evil choice; the good is always the best, and the evil is always the worst. Thus, the lesser of two evils is a good. By the same reasoning, the converse of this — that the lesser of two goods is an evil — is also true, because it would be an act of evil to choose it in the presence of a better option.

5. Paul J. Moloney - June 5, 2010

Intelligent people leave the contentious person to argue with themselves or with another contentious person.

Asur - June 6, 2010

An unfortunate withdrawal; I had hoped we could discuss your other points as well.

6. emuleman - June 8, 2010

* The Arizona law simply enforces existing federal laws. Now Arizona police can actually enforce laws that are already on the books. Obviously the reason for this is because the federal government is not enforcing the law effectively in Arizona. The new Arizona law simply states that violating federal immigration law is now a state crime as well. Because illegal immigrants are by definition in violation of federal immigration laws, they can now be arrested by local law enforcement in Arizona. No new actions. No new powers. No new nothing. Simply enforcing federal law, and absolutely nothing else.

* The law only allows police to ask about immigration status in the normal course of “lawful contact” with a person, such as a traffic stop or if they have committed a crime. Before asking a person about immigration status, law enforcement officials are required by the law to have “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an illegal immigrant. The concept of “reasonable suspicion” is well established by court rulings. Since Arizona does not issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, having a valid license creates a presumption of legal status. The same thing happens to me when I get pulled over, they ask to see my drivers license or identification card. This is not a new, radical concept or law. Police have been asking people for identification for many years.

Again I just find it amazing that people are getting all worked up about this. Federal law already exists, but the Federal government does not enforce it. Arizona has a huge immigration problem. They finally decide to pass a law that allows state officers to enforce the federal laws. It is the federal government’s irresponsibility that has finally caused Arizona to take charge and protect its citizens.

Asur - June 8, 2010

I disagree that the federal government is acting irresponsibly in the amount of resource it dedicates to matters relating to illegal immigration, however, that said, it’s nice to finally hear a reasonable voice on this topic; I completely agree with your other points.

It seems like the general opposition to this is sourcing out of naive conceptions of human rights.

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