Fox News is making quite a bit of hay out of a report released by the House Judiciary Committee and the Congressional Research Service. After following immigrants (both documented and undocumented) who are arrested for undisclosed offenses, they found that one in six find themselves under arrest for a second time within three years. Yes, that sounds frightening, until you realize that the general population enjoys a recidivism rate that is more than double that of immigrants.
According to Fox News, the House GOP is attributing the immigrant recidivism rate to a “dangerous and deadly” immigration policy, despite the fact that under the Obama administration, deportations of undocumented immigrants are up and the net immigration rate is zero.
The study, which Fox does not link to, studied 276,412 arrests of immigrants (both documented and undocumented). 160,000 were in the database and out of those, 26,412, or 16%, had been rearrested.
- DUIs were the most common offense, at 14.6% followed by drug offenses at 10.9%. 7.1% of the offenses were considered major criminal offenses.
- Almost 30% of the immigrants were undocumented and the crime categories were statistically similar between documented and undocumented immigrants.
- Out of 7,283 undocumented immigrants, there were 19 murders, three attempted murders and 542 sex crimes.
Of course, crimes, especially violent crimes, are inexcusable, but the study didn’t detail the first arrest. Because of lack of resources, the Obama administration has halted the deportation of some immigrants, such as those stopped for minor traffic offenses. It also neglects to state how many of the rearrested people had been deported and reentered the country.
Since we don’t know the severity of the first arrests or how much jail time was served, it’s nearly impossible to compare the findings to non-immigrants, but every study on the general population shows recidivism rates to be much higher.
Fox/GOP fear based, pseudo-scientific study aside, one statistic is irrefutable, immigrant populations have a lower crime rate than the general population.
Of course, Fox and the Republican party won’t let facts get in the way of a good round of attack ads. Most of my readers are probably too young to remember the Willie Horton ad in 1988. Horton was serving time in Massachusetts, where he was given a weekend furlough from prison. Horton simply walked away and committed rape and armed robbery.
As you may recall, 1988 was an election between then Vice President George H.W. Bush and then Governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis. The Bush camp produced an ad about Horton, blaming Horton’s escape on Dukakis. It turned out that the weekend furlough program began under Dukakis’ predecessor. In the end however, that was unimportant. The scandalous ad was enough to put Bush over the top.
Mitt Romney is having a tough time of it, often seeming like his own worst enemy in the quest for the presidency. The Romney campaign would like nothing better than its own Willie Horton ad. If Republicans can’t get people to vote for Romney, maybe they can scare them away from voting for Obama.