Steve Chapman DEBUNKS some popular myths about illegal immigrants and argues that certain efforts to crack down on uauthorized foreigners often backfire.
A few excerpts:
It’s no surprise that Arizonans resent the recent influx of unauthorized foreigners, some of them criminals. But there is less here than meets the eye.
The state has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants. But contrary to myth, they have not brought an epidemic of murder and mayhem with them. Surprise of surprises, the state has gotten safer.
Over the last decade, the violent crime rate has dropped by 19 percent, while property crime is down by 20 percent. Crime has also declined in the rest of the country, but not as fast as in Arizona.
Truth is, illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native Americans. Most come here to work, and in their desire to stay, they are generally afraid to do anything that might draw the attention of armed people wearing badges.
El Paso, Texas, is next door to the exceptionally violent Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and easily accessible to illegal entry. Yet it is one of the safest cities in the United States.
In 2007, scholars Ruben Rumbaut and Walter Ewing investigated the issue for the Immigration Policy Center and concluded that “if immigrants suddenly disappeared and the country became immigrant-free (and illegal-immigrant free), crime rates would likely increase.”
UPDATE: Meanwhile, John McCain is peddling the PREPOSTEROUS NOTION that illegal immigrants are intentionally causing traffic accidents.