Politifact.com reports:

The debate about immigration often involves discussions about whether illegal immigrants cause more crime.

The topic came up on ABC’s This Week on July 4, 2010, when Al Hunt, the executive editor in Washington for Bloomberg News, criticized John McCain for the Republican senator’s comments about crime in Arizona.

McCain had explained his shift on immigration by saying, “The violence is incredibly high. The human smuggling and drug cartels are at a level of violence where 25,000 — 23,000 Mexican citizens have been murdered in the last few years, 5,000 already this year. There’s a level of violence which has increased to a significant degree, which makes the situation far different than it was in 2007” when the Senate last considered immigration reform.

He added, “But I invite the president to come to the border, and he can see for himself the absolute necessity of getting our border secure before more violence spills over onto our side of the border… It is not the same as it was in 2007. And the people deserve not to have our ranchers murdered, not to have a deputy shot by a drug smuggler with an AK-47 in Pinal County. The situation has dramatically changed, and the statistics absolutely back that up.”

During the roundtable discussion on This Week, Hunt told host Jake Tapper: “I must say, John McCain, in his interview with you, Jake, that was extraordinary to say that crime is up there. He’s talking about Mexico. Crime is down in Arizona. Every single academic study that’s been done shows that immigrants commit fewer crimes.”

It is unclear whether McCain was suggesting that crime in Arizona was up because of illegal immigrants, but we were curious about Hunt’s claim that crime in Arizona — a state that ranks 6th for the estimated population of illegal immigrants — was down.

Because Hunt did not specify the types of crime, we’ll examine all types.

We checked the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports as well as data from Arizona’s Department of Public Safety and found Hunt is correct that crime is down.

From 2004 to 2008, data from Arizona’s DPS shows a 23 percent drop in the overall crime rate, while the FBI’s statistics on Arizona show a 19 percent drop. Although the FBI has not released all of the data on 2009, Arizona’s statistics show the crime rate in 2009 dropped an additional 12 percent.

“Crime has been going down, overall, in Arizona,” said Tony LaRose, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Tampa, but he noted it has been a national trend for the past almost three decades.”

The trend holds even if you only measure violent crime, which James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University, said is the type of crime people think of when discussing crime and illegal immigrants. The violent crime rate fell 11 percent from 2004 to 2008 in Arizona.

Whether or not Hunt was correctly interpreting McCain’s comments is outside of the scope of the claim, but he is right about Arizona crime going down. So we rate Hunt’s claim True

So what does this report do to the claims made by Gov. Brewer and State Senator Pearce? Apparently crime just isn’t holding up to close scrutiny like the politicians would like for it to.

24 Thoughts to “Bloomberg’s Al Hunt says crime is down in Arizona”

  1. You see, this is why I’ve never argued the illegal immigration case on the basis of more crime/less crime.

    Statistics can mean anything. Crime statistics can go up or down dramatically because of just ONE crime.

    However, crime committed or not committed by illegal aliens is beside the point and secondary to the argument. They don’t belong here and have broken the law. Every immigrant that has or is working to get to this country through the right channels is being cheated.

  2. Earlier, George brought up profiling in another thread. I replied, basically, that I didn’t care what it was called. Evidence is evidence. Well here is what I meant, written much better than I can, in “Response to Linda Chavez”: http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NGZmOTU1NjdkZjJhNWVkNGExYmQ2YmQ2YTRjYWYwN2M=

    The severe economic, social and criminal problem Arizonans are dealing with is illegal immigration from Mexico. If you say our law must be “race-neutral” in dealing with a problem in which race (or ethnicity/natural-origin) is unavoidably central, that is tantamount to saying the law cannot deal with the problem. That’s ludicrous. It would mean we must either be vigilantes or resign ourselves to suicide.

    Challenges are what they are. They don’t organize themselves around our pieties. If a problem has a race/ethnicity/national-origin element, the solution has to account for it. To be sure, this will cause inconvenience and suspicion to befall some innocent people, but that is a fact of life in dealing with a problem of this nature.

    The Arizona statute attempts to mitigate the inconvenience and suspicion by prescribing forms of identification that create a legal presumption of lawful presence in the United States — notwithstanding that there is a robust document fraud market and, therefore, we know some will benefit from the presumption undeservedly. Nothing’s perfect, but the statute is a good-faith effort to draw sensible lines.

    Linda’s meandering on “reasonable suspicion” obscures the fact that the Arizona statute is more protective of immigrants than is federal law. “Reasonable suspicion” is a detention standard, not an inquiry standard

  3. Wolverine

    Crime is down in what specific parts of Arizona?

    You know, you could have easily played this statistical game in Loudoun County over the past 5-6 years. We still have a considerable rural or semi-rural area west of Route 15. Elsewhere in the county we have many areas of expensive homes or “McMansions”, as some call them. If you looked at the overall crime statistics for Loudoun, you would come to the conclusion that this county is a pretty safe place to live since the overall stats are low. But, then, if you took just the stats during that period for Sterling Park and Sugarland and the area east of Route 28 in general, you would probably sit back and say: ” Whoa, wait a cotton picking moment here! I guess I don’t want to move my family into that area!” In fact, we had a recent article in the local paper which discussed the lack of patronage at the community center in Sterling Park. The opinion among staff there was that people had heard about the bad reputation of the Park and decided that there were community centers in other areas which might be preferable for patronage.

    So. I ask again. What parts of Arizona? Might that include those national monuments and parks on the Mexican border which have been closed to tourist traffic because they have been deemed to be too dangerous? Maybe so. No go. No crime reports, I would guess. No freedom either.

  4. Wolverine, I don’t know and I think you bring up valid questions. Poorer areas have always been subject to a greater incidence of crime. My only point in posting, other than to generate discussion was to call attention to the fact that it probably isn’t such a good idea to call on crime statistics to prove the point.

    I still go back to the fact that there are already laws against rape, murder, identity theft, assault, and all the bad things. SB1070 really is about removing illegal aliens. We all know that probable cause can be a tail light out or a dim headlight.

    AZ has just about worn me out.

  5. Second-Alamo

    Well, let me know when child abductions go down so I can tell everyone it’s safe to send their young children out into the dark of night. So no one wants to shoot for a zero crime rate, just a reduction and then we can disband the law? Do we know if crimes committed by illegals is down, or just crimes in general? Oh that’s right ‘but how do we know they’re illegal?’.

    Everyone was pointing at ‘profiling’ as the main problem, but the lawsuit makes no mention of that as being the problem. Time for the anti-AZs to change their tactics I suppose.

  6. Starryflights

    Conservatives want crime to increase so that they can blame Obama.

  7. PWC Taxpayer

    Grow up Starry.

  8. PWC Taxpayer

    The real insult to this profiling issue is the fact that agencies like the TSA, for exemple, ICE and local police departments are consciously pulling old white women aside to do full body scans to keep appropriate statistics when we know – we know that old white women are not in the terrorist or even druggy profile. It is a huge waste of time, money and resources and it increases the real risk of somebody getting through. It is political correctness with a direct cost to all of us. Can crimes be committed by others outside the profile – certainly, two old folks were caught last week with over 500 lbs of marijuana, but you have to allocate resources based on some relative factors.

  9. Morris Davis

    Cargosquid said: “They don’t belong here.”

    I’d bet that’s the same thought Native Americans had when our ancestors showed up on these shores uninvited looking to make a better life for their families. Our ancestors adversely impacted traditional Native American life, wiped out some tribes, and spread diseases that were unknown on this continent. I noticed on the map of Arizona that Moon posted a few days ago that several of the counties were named after Native America tribes, Navajo and Apache, for instance. The Cherokee were indigenous to the region where I grew up in western NC in the Appalachian foothills before our ancestors drove them west along the Trail of Tears (the name alone is indicative of our ancestors’ behavior). There’s a landmark Supreme Court case, Worcester v. Georgia (1832), where Chief Justice John Marshall held that Native Americans were entitled to the protection of the federal government from actions of state governments (in this case Georgia who wanted to expel Native Americans from the western side of the Georgia Territory) and that relations with Native Americans was a federal function, not one for each of the states to handle however they wanted. Regardless, President Andrew Jackson ignored the Supreme Court and the Cherokee were driven further west and out of the Georgia Territory. The leading proponent of this legal fight to limit states rights and uphold federal supremacy and who backed the Cherokee’s cause was the National Republican Party, mainly through the efforts of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

  10. Starryflights

    PWC Taxpayer :The real insult to this profiling issue is the fact that agencies like the TSA, for exemple, ICE and local police departments are consciously pulling old white women aside to do full body scans to keep appropriate statistics.

    That is simply false. Our law enforcement officers work very, very hard under dangerous conditions to keep our communities safe and we can see the results in the statistics. Comments like that undermine and denigrate the hard work performed by our law enforcement officers. I support law enforcement and thank them for their hard work in protecting our communities.

  11. @Morris Davis
    If you want to phrase the argument along those lines….yep. You are absolutely right. This is another culture war. We have a sovereign nation and people are entering it without our permission.

    As to Jackson, the Cherokees were once his allies and were his friends. His logic in moving the tribe was that the Cherokee wanted to keep their territory as a sovereign nation. It was a war of conquest. Was it right? Was it necessary? I personally think that the Union would have be served well if the Cherokee nation could have merged with the US. But….different times. The entire move west was a war of conquest. The tribes could not control entry into their areas.

    I’d rather not have that happen to the US by uncontrolled immigration.

  12. George S. Harris

    @PWC Taxpayer
    “The real insult to this profiling issue is the fact that agencies like the TSA, for exemple, ICE and local police departments are consciously pulling old white women aside to do full body scans to keep appropriate statistics when we know – we know that old white women are not in the terrorist or even druggy profile.

    Please provide some sort of citation or stats for this most ludicrous allegation.

    And I am still waiting for some stats on how many white non-Hispanics with an accent are getting challenged anywhere in this country.

  13. George S. Harris

    @Morris Davis

    My thoughts exactly Moe. I don’t “like” illegal immigration but getting rid of 12 million (or whatever the real number is) is just not humanly possible. Of course, we could do like this guy in Fredericksburg, VA suggests:

    Here’s a border plan published in the Fredericksburg “Freelance Star”

    Date published: 7/2/2010

    Here’s a border plan

    On June 23, Janet Napolitano said, “You’re never going to totally seal that border.”

    It is a real shame when the Secretary of Homeland Security has no idea what she is talking about.

    Of course, we will never secure the border the way we have done it for more than 60 years.

    Ms. Napolitano should learn from other countries. We would need some of the fellows who were with Blackwater to do the work.

    Here are the rules of engagement:

    Rule No. 1: Anyone coming across the U.S. border from Mexico is considered a felon. With a public-announcement system, tell them to go back to Mexico. They are not wanted here.

    Rule No. 2: If the suspects continue to advance, two warning shots are fired to the left and the right of the suspects.

    Rule No. 3: If the suspects continue, at least two of the suspects are shot. Yes, it’s an awful idea, but when this nation has been violated for more than 60 years, it is time to take action.

    Would this work? I give it an 80 percent success probability.

    Mexicans are smart people. Once they understand that the U.S. actually means business, they will enter the U.S. through the front door.

    Walter E. Kreutzer

    Sorta sounds like some folks on here.

  14. Morris Davis

    There’s a legal doctrine known as the “clean hands” doctrine. If I steal your wife’s purse and then later you come and steal it back from me I’m not going to be able to get a court to order you to return it to me because my hands were dirty from the way in which I illegally acquired it. There’s a defense argument called Tu Quoque (A Latin term meaning “you, too”) that’s based on the notion that you shouldn’t hold me accountable for doing what you yourself have done or condone before. It’s one of the arguments the Gitmo detainees raised – we said they were unlawful combatants in part because they weren’t in distinctive uniforms as required by the Geneva Conventions and they said well what about those U.S Special Forces troops we sent out on horseback dressed in robes like the locals; where were their distinctive uniforms? The argument now centers on Hispanics coming into our territory uninvited and I bet there are some Native Americans who look at our outrage and see some irony. I suspect their ancestors were a little outraged about uncontrolled immigration, too.

  15. @George S. Harris
    Heck, I’m still waiting on the stats for the Hispanics that are getting stopped for being Hispanic….oh…wait….that’s against AZ law……

    Since no one seems to be getting stopped, at all, THAT is the problem. Unfortunately, the evidence is that the majority of illegal aliens come from south of the border. Efficient law enforcement follows the evidence. If ICE finds a Canadian or an Irishman, deport them too. The Feds, in fact, police in general can inquires as to immigrant status on ANY stop.


  16. I am not sure I am going to buy, hook, line and sinker, that RI is really doing.

    I seriously doubt that RI calls and ICE comes a running. That is one of the problem we had here with our 287g program. ICE is spread pretty thin. They don’t just come out willy nilly to pick up prisoners.

    There is a priority on who they want detained. Jaywalkers aren’t at the top of the list.

    MA had 30 state troopers involved with 287g under Mitt Romney. The new gov. recinded the MOA.

    The above link seems to be unbiased.

  17. Then ICE is not supported enough. Maybe some of that “stimulus” money needs to be spent on ICE. Because it is part of ICE’s mission to pick up illegal aliens, not just criminals. Hmmm, if they picked up enough illegal aliens, perhaps some would leave on their own, and there would be fewer CRIMINAL illegal aliens. Besides, I have no problem with criminal illegal aliens spending time in our prisons. Let ICE pick them up after their sentence.

  18. If ICE won’t pick them up, or releases them, then the states need to build places to hold them until ICE deports them, and bill the feds. Or let the states deport them, in assistance to the feds.And if the original country won’t accept these people, then the State dept. needs to get involved. Perhaps some of that aid needs to be cut.

  19. As to law enforcement, I support them too. But the TSA is notorious for their “random” searches. Military members are routinely pulled aside when they use their military IDs, vs their Drivers license for ID. This happened to me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I was passed through if I used my civilian ID. Other service members have confirmed this. The TSA is infamous for its being unprofessional.

    I think PWC misspoke (miswrote?) by mentioning ICE and local LEO doing that. ICE does seem to have a catch and release program and the image that I see is one that they feel inconvenienced when asked to actually apprehend “non-criminal” illegal aliens.

    Yes, I know that they may be stretched thin and that they have priorities. Too bad. Its part of the mission. Either achieve it, ask for help, or get out of the way.

  20. Morris Davis

    I recall coming back from Germany and I didn’t have a chance to change out of my Class A uniform before catching the plane. When I got to Dulles I was in line behind a man who could have been Osama bin Laden. They waved him through. They pulled me aside and took me to a side room where I got the full body cavity exam (figuratively). For better or worse, TSA does passenger screenings the same way we used to do vehicle searches at the gates of military installations … every 10th car or 20th car or whatever the preset number was got pulled aside and searched. There was no profiling, it was all luck of the draw.

    As for illegals spending time in prison, I believe the figure I saw is that the cost on average is $30k per inmate per year.

  21. Posting as Pinko


    That was random, Starry. I enjoyed it.

  22. George S. Harris

    I didn’t get out of the article that the ICE “comes a running.” The RI state police report them. I couldn’t tell if they were detaining folks. Are they?

    The imortant thing is RI is doing this without all the fanfare of Arizona or PWC!

    Still gotta ask if any white guys with accents are getting the same treatment. French Canadians visit the northeast and some speak little english or at least pretend not to. Hmmmmm….

  23. ICE certainly doesn’t come running in PWC. I think they have a schedule.

    So what is RI gaining from their reporting?

    George is right. AZ had to poke a stick in the nation’s eye. RI just appears to be doing its own thing and probably to not much avail.

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