Last year, a national survey indicated that a third of all Americans and 46 percent of Phoenix residents believe that undocumented immigrants significantly increase the crime rate. The truth is, no one is keeping track, the Arizona Republic reports. The only statistics that single out the immigration status of defendants and criminals – prison and jail populations, and local felony prosecutions, suggest that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a rate virtually proportionate to their numbers in the general population.
The Republic reviewed some anecdotal accounts of undocumented immigrants committing crimes. As serious as they are, put in a larger news context, many of the crimes would never make it to TV news or see newsprint if they had been committed by legal citizens. One widely circulated e-mail cited the Los Angeles Times as saying that 95 percent of murder warrants and 75 percent of people on the most-wanted list in Los Angeles were undocumented immigrants. “I saw that e-mail, and it’s wrong,” said Mesa Police Chief George Gascón a former assistant L.A. police chief.”By and large, criminality of Hispanics in L.A. is very proportionate to their size in the population,” he said. Aside from their illegal presence, there is no evidence that undocumented immigrants in Arizona commit crimes at a significantly higher rate than any other segment of society.