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All Arizona Laws

Crime, immigration laws and a father’s anger

July 31, 2010

Crime, immigration laws and a father’s anger

Woman being arrested
Woman being arrested

“Russell, this is really going to make you mad, but Sean was shot by an illegal alien.”

The words of an Arizona state senator’s wife in December 2004, as quoted in a Reuters article, could be credited with inspiring the legislation behind Arizona’s newest and very controversial immigration law SB 1070, which was partially blocked by a federal judge on Wednesday.

Already a fierce opponent of illegal immigration, Senator Russell Pearce, Sean’s father, began firing off one legislative proposal after another to curb illegal immigrants’ access to employment, voting, bail and public benefits.

Then came SB 1070, which has gotten the most widespread attention of his initiatives. This legislation was jointly crafted by Pearce, the anti-immigration organization the Federation for American Immigration Reform, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law professor Kris Kobach.

“Government has blood on their hands when they ignore the damage to this country and the killings and the maimings, while they defend lawbreakers and refuse to enforce the law,” Pearce said in the Reuters article.

Granted Pearce is talking specifically about illegal immigrants, but it made me wonder if there is a link between immigration and crime.

More immigrants, less crime

According to a University of Colorado at Boulder study that came out in May, more immigrants actually mean less crime. The research “suggests that, controlling for a variety of other factors, growth in the new immigrant population was responsible, on average, for 9.3 percent of the decline in homicide rates, and that growth in total immigration was, on average, responsible for 22.2 percent of the decrease in robbery rates.”

Articles in The Wall Street Journal and The Arizona Republic report that Arizona crime rates, including those of major cities and border towns, have fallen since the 1990s.

The author of the Colorado study proposed that immigration lowered crime because “immigrant communities are often characterized by extended family networks, lower levels of divorce, and cultural and religious beliefs that facilitate community integration.”

I agree with Pearce that more immigration enforcement could have prevented his son (who survived) from getting shot. But after a bit of research, I would have to say that inculcating values in young people would create a bigger impact on lowering crime than stricter immigration laws.

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The goal of Immigration Conversation is to cover U.S. immigration policy and the personal stories of immigrants. Whether readers are for, against or somewhere in the middle about immigration, this blog aims to humanize the immigration experience.
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