After the president’s border security speech in the Oval Office last week, the freshman Democrat from Queens and the Bronx, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, accused him of lying. She said that “immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than native-born Americans.”
It is a standard liberal talking point that illegal aliens commit fewer crimes than both American citizens and legal immigrants. But it’s not necessarily true.
The federal government does not record national crime statistics by immigration status; it does not release data that isolates illegal aliens who commit crimes. The closest they come is to break down crime by citizenship or non-citizenship. “Non-citizens” is not a good benchmark, because it includes legal immigrants who are not yet citizens, illegal aliens, and visa holders. In other words, any study claiming that illegal immigrant commit fewer crimes is flawed. (Logically, one can claim that in total illegal aliens commit fewer crimes than citizens, because there are many more American citizens than there are illegal aliens.)
Additionally the federal government reports federal crimes: terrorism, kidnapping, tax fraud for example. Most of the offenses discussed with regard to illegal immigration are state and local crimes such as rape, burglary, murder, and vehicular homicide.
Some states, such as Texas, do record immigration status in their crime data, in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security. The Texas Department of Public Safety informs us that “in Texas, PEP [Priority Enforcement Program] begins at the local level when an individual is arrested and booked by a Texas law enforcement officer for a criminal violation of Texas law. The arrested individual’s fingerprints are submitted to the Texas DPS and subsequently to the FBI for criminal history and warrant checks. This same biometric data is also sent to DHS’ IDENT database so that ICE can determine the person’s immigration status and whether the individual is a priority for removal, consistent with the DHS enforcement priorities.”
Because individuals identified as being illegally present in the country may have had a Texas criminal history before their immigration status was being known to law enforcement, DPS publishes criminal history data for an illegal alien’s entire criminal history.
Texas records a total of 238,000 crimes leading to a conviction committed by people in the U.S. illegally. Illegal aliens in Texas have been convicted of 1,601 homicides, 25,401 assaults, 9,672 burglaries, 34,839 drug-related offenses, 426 kidnappings, and 4,810 sexual assaults.
Texas does not record similar data for all criminals who are legal immigrants or American citizens. Therefore, anyone who tells you they can compare crime statistics by immigration status, either in Texas or nationally, is not being honest.
Even though criminal comparisons are not available, Texas’s numbers are all crimes that would not have happened, or at the very least would be significantly lower, if the US borders were secured. Border protection and ICE officials, fenced areas in the US, and Israel’s experience with the wall in Judea and Samaria have taught us that barriers work.
Thousands of people in Texas might not have been raped, killed, or become drug addicts if there was a wall or fence on our southern border. Perhaps they should thank the politicians who are fighting it.
Politicians like New York’s own Chuck Schumer voted for the Secure Fence Act in 2006 and supported the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill in 2014 that included the same 700 miles of double-layered fencing promised in 2006. Their fight against a border barrier may have more to do with who is president than any real objection to a wall.
Nobody claims that a border fence will stop everyone, but it will cut down number of illegal border crossings. Fewer illegal immigrants will lead to fewer crimes committed by them.
In Texas, which accounts for about 9% of the country, there have been at least 1,600 homicides and 4,800 sexual assaults committed by illegal aliens. If a wall prevented only half of them, would 800 saved lives and 2,400 prevented rapes be worth it? How many murders are acceptable? How many prevented deaths make a border wall worthwhile to Pelosi and Schumer?
In the end, the crisis at the border amounts to saving lives.