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Arizona’s 1070

I keep hearing over and over that the main reason that has pushed Arizona to take immigration matters into their own hands is the “soaring crime in border states”.  Being the nerd that I am, I have decided to do some research and this is what I came up with:

  • Violent crime rates in Arizona are at their lowest point since 1983
  • Property crime rates in the last few years were the lowest since 1968
  • Violent and property crime rates in New Mexico, Texas and California dropped from 1998 through 2008

Another claim that i have heard is that there have been headless bodies found in the desert and John McCain has stated that Arizona is the second kidnapping capital in the world. Those articles will show you those claims are complete false.

Yet another claim made by Arizona’s Republican leadership is that illegal immigration is “out of control”.  Here’s what the New York Times had to say about that:

But the rate of violent crime at the border, and indeed across Arizona has been declining, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as has illegal immigration, according to the Border Patrol…

“If an illegal immigrant commits a crime, this confirms our view that illegal immigrants are criminals.”  Ms. Gans 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.”

“Their repeated characterization of illegal immigrants as criminals – easy to do since they broke immigration laws – makes it easy for people to ignore statistics.”

The statistics send me back to the drawing board.  If crime is down, and illegal immigration is down, then what’s the urgent matter that drove Arizona to take immigration reform into their own hands?  What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know your theory.

  1. mbkcrs
    September 13, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    The ‘urgent matter’ driving the whole thing is that illegal immigrants from Mexico have brown skin. That seems to be enough to get plenty of people all flipped out. It’s too easy to blame any and all problems, perceived or real, on the underdog, poor brown people trying to catch an even break. In a word, racism.

  2. Amy McMullen
    September 13, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Nice article Juan. Thanks for helping to get the word out on this. The reasons for SB1070 are very simple: political opportunism and a profit motive on the part of private prison corporations and their ties to AZ politicians. It has nothing to do with border security, crime or headless bodies.
    I’ve written about this subject as well. Here are the links to my articles:


  3. mbkcrs
    September 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I would be interested to know what all this talk of illegal immigrants, rampant crime and murder is doing to economic development in Arizona. Are potential employers glad to hear that steps are being taken to battle a terrible problem and more apt to go to Arizona with new business opportunities? Or are they taking Arizonans at their word and staying away because of all the murder and mayhem? Or staying away because they find Arizonans to be racist? If Arizona business development is up in this economy, it would point toward developers approving of the state’s actions against illegal immigrants. OTOH, if it’s down, it’s hard to say if it’s the economy or Arizona’s stance on illegal immigrants.

  4. Alejandra Seluja
    September 13, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    It’s a game to deflect the issue of economic catastrophy that we see in America. Of course, who’s to blame?, immigrants! but they are the ones
    1. Paying gross sales taxes like anyone else
    2. Contributing with SSN and medicare without being able to benefit from it
    3. They do not qualify for unemployment, EIC, or child tax credits, although they contribut to all those services
    4. And great point on the (is it CMA?) Federal private prisions in AZ

    • September 13, 2010 at 1:33 pm

      Hi Alejandra,
      I think you hit it right on the nail. Anytime there is an economic downturn, people look for a scapegoat to blame, usually the weakest and most vulnerable in society.

  5. September 13, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks for the comments. There’s definitely a lot of misinformation out there on this and many other issues. I talk about that on my midterm madness entry ( http://juanefernandez.com/2010/09/08/midterm-madness/ ) I’m just really hoping that people start doing research on the various issues and not just buy into whatever propaganda they are being fed through viral emails and cable news.

    Keep the feedback and comments coming and I can take the heat, so if you disagree with the comments above or my entry, make sure to let me know your thoughts.

  6. bitesofnews
    September 14, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Hey Juan, Great post! It’s nice to see other people out there verifying the “facts” politicians try to use to manipulate us. As for what is behind this legislation… I’d have to think a lot of this has to do with the ability to band citizens’ together against “the enemy” (Mexican immigrants in this case). And politicians achieve this through fear tactics. By doing so it takes citizens’ attentions away from their woefully ineffective and stupid politicians… who aren’t solving the more imminent problems at hand.

  7. Pete
    September 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    It’s classical “take a problem too complex to solve in under 30 seconds and scare people into believing a simple solution is the right one” mentality.

    I do believe illegals cause a number of problems, but they’re not easily solved and they certainly aren’t as scary as the reasons used to push this type of law through. Yes, it furthers the burden on social welfare programs, but there’s a much larger economic problem at hand that nobody seems to address outside of the same mentality.

    Working in the human services industry, I know first-hand how many benefits are handed out to various people bucketed into the ‘illegals/immigrants’ category; perhaps this creates a resentment in those who don’t receive them. I can’t fault the resentment, but nobody seems interested in resolving the underlying issues rather than blaming the illegals who have nothing to do with it (i.e. “Why don’t I get free Medicaid-based Health Care” versus “Why can’t I afford it on a decent income”, “Why don’t I get minority scholarships” versus “Why has college gotten so expensive that I can’t afford it without a handout”).

    Ultimately, I think a whole lot of people have forgotten that “those people” are people too, and at some point we were all one of “those people”.

    • Amy McMullen
      September 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm

      The real issue is that people are misinformed about undocumented people and what services they actually are able to receive in this country. Study after study has shown that the amount that these people pay in taxes exceeds the amount they use in the very few services they are able to use, including education and healthcare. We’ve also been shown that immigrants, both legal and undocumented stimulate an economy by spending money, paying sales,real estate and income taxes and by contributing to Social Security during a time when we’ve got a huge aging population.

      We hear bloated claims of crime and headless bodies by our politicians in their efforts to get reelected while the factual reports show that crime has fallen and headless bodies are a myth. But fear works and that’s the favorite tool of the right wing.

      It’s a classic game of scapegoating people in order to conceal the real culprits for our slagging economy, the fat cats on Wall St, greedy bankers and mortgage companies and the corporate billionaires like the Koch brothers. Too bad people are just too lazy or stupid to look behind that curtain and see who’s really pulling the levers.

      • Pete
        September 17, 2010 at 6:51 pm

        Well I agree that education is necessary here; we don’t and won’t provide all services based on governmental criteria. And I don’t trust any study that claims either way because essentially there is a study for any particular belief you want.

        I do believe there is a cost to providing government services; likewise there’s a reality that people who aren’t paid fairly and used for their low wages face. One might argue that a multi-millionaire pays far more than they will ever receive, I’d like to hope they average out. Certainly, my comment should not be misconstrued as saying the cost is high enough to justify blaming any significant part of our economic troubles on them. I think our failures have a lot to do with the banking and insurance industries, horrible trade policies and an aging baby-boomer population facing exploding health care costs.

  8. SUNNofaB.C.Rich
    October 6, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    ” If crime is down, and illegal immigration is down, then what’s the urgent matter that drove Arizona to take immigration reform into their own hands?”

    maybe the fact that crime is down and illegal immigration is down is somehow connected?

    Not that the burden of coming up with a really really good reason to enforce immigration law should be on the United States…

  1. September 15, 2010 at 4:47 pm

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