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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

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