The Forgotten Issue: Illegal Immigration and Crime
Two new studies were released in October on the relationship between illegal immigrants and crime in the U.S. The first released October 1, 2008, by the Center for Immigration Studies deals with gang activity, and the second, released October 3, 2008, by the Maricopa County Attorneys Office in Phoenix, Arizona, details the percentage of crimes committed by border violators in the third largest county in the U.S.
“Taking Back the Streets: ICE and Local Law Enforcement Target Immigrant Gangs” is the Center for Immigration Studies report that offers these highlights:
# Transnational immigrant gangs have been spreading rapidly and sprouting in suburban and rural areas where communities are not always equipped to deal with them.
# A very large share of immigrant gang members are illegal aliens and removable aliens. Federal sources estimate that 60 to 90 percent of the members of MS-13, the most notorious immigrant gang, are illegal aliens. In one jurisdiction studied, Northern Virginia, 30 to 40 percent of the gang task force case load were removable aliens.
# MS-13 activity was found in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
# The immigrant gangsters arrested were a significant menace to the public. About 80 percent had committed serious crimes in addition to their immigration violations and 40 percent were violent criminals.
# While immigration law enforcement is a federal responsibility, ICE cannot do the job effectively without assistance from state and local law enforcement, particularly when it comes to immigrant gangs.
# Failure to adequately control the U.S.-Mexico border and to deter illegal settlement in general undermines the progress ICE and local law enforcement agencies have made in disrupting criminal immigrant street gangs.
The MCAO report from County Attorney Andrew Thomas features these startling numbers for prosecuted felony cases in Maricopa County, Arizona:
In 2007, illegal immigrants accounted for:
10% of sex crimes convictions
11% of murders convictions
13% of stolen cars convictions
13% of aggravated assaults convictions
17% of those sentenced for violent crimes
19% of those sentenced for property crimes
20% of those sentenced for felony DUI.
21% of crimes committed with weapons
34% of those sentenced for the manufacture, sale or transport of drugs
36% of those sentenced for kidnapping
44% of forgeries
50% of those sentenced for crimes related to “chop shops”
85% of false ID convictions
96% of smuggling convictions
Illegal immigrants make up 19 percent of those convicted of crimes in Maricopa County and 21 percent of those in county jails.
Illegal immigrants only make up an estimated 9 percent of the county’s population.
It is estimated that each violent crime cost citizens $20,000, and each property crime cost citizens $4363 per offense.
All the more a concern is research that finds the likelihood of an illegal immigrant being incarcerated grows with longer residence in the United States and that the U.S. born children (considered citizens) of illegal immigrants are dramatically more likely to be involved in crime than their illegal immigrant parents. For instance, native born Hispanic male high school dropouts are eleven times more likely to be incarcerated than their foreign born counterparts