Despite the widely-publicized death of Robert Krentz, a mild-mannered Arizona rancher who was shot to death this year on his vast property, the rate of violent crime at the border as well as illegal immigration have been declining, says the New York Times. While thousands have been killed in Mexico's drug wars, raising anxiety that the violence will spread to the U.S. FBI data show that Arizona is relatively safe. Judith Gans of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona said that “self-serving perception bias” seems at play. Both sides in the immigration debate accept information that confirms their biases and discard, ignore or rationalize information that does not.
“If an illegal immigrant commits a crime, this confirms our view that illegal immigrants are criminals,” she said. “If an illegal immigrant doesn't commit a crime, either they just didn't get caught or it's a fluke of the situation.” Gans said sponsors of Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law have made careers of promising to rid the state of illegal immigrants through tough legislation. “Their repeated characterization of illegal immigrants as criminals – easy to do since they broke immigration laws – makes it easy for people to ignore statistics,” she said. Crime statistics are abstract. It takes only one well-publicized crime, like Krentz's shooting, to drive up fear.