Wednesday, August 15, 2007
It looks like Newt Gingrich may be joining Mitt Romney and Rudy Gingrich and run for President on the backs of immigrants. Cox News reports that Gingrich, who it rumor has it is considering a run for the White House, targeted "illegal immigrants" for the horrible crime in Newark, New Jersey, in which three college students were murdered. It has been reported that one of the suspects -- Jose Carranza -- is an undocumented immigrant from Peru who was on bail on charges of raping a child when the murders occurred. Gingrich said another suspect is an illegal immigrant from Nicaragua with a long record of arrests who was ordered deported in 1993 but never left. However, the (Newark) Star Ledger reported Tuesday that the man has been a lawful permanent resident since 2001.
Before we overreact to the Newark tragedy, recall the recent studies showing that the crime rate among immigrants are lower than U.S. citizens. For example, a report by Ruben G. Rumbaut and Walter A. Ewing report entitled "The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation: Incarceration Rates among Native and Foreign-Born Men" found that:
Because many immigrants to the United States, especially Mexicans and Central Americans, are young men who arrive with very low levels of formal education, popular stereotypes tend to associate them with higher rates of crime and incarceration. The fact that many of these immigrants enter the country through unauthorized channels or overstay their visas often is framed as an assault against the rule of law, thereby reinforcing the impression that immigration and criminality are linked. This association has flourished in a post-9/11 climate of fear and ignorance where terrorism and undocumented immigration often are mentioned in the same breath. However, data from the census and other sources show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population. The problem of crime in the United States is not caused or even aggravated by immigrants, regardless of their legal status. But the misperception that the opposite is true persists among policymakers, the media, and the general public, thereby undermining the development of reasoned public responses to both crime and immigration.
Another recent report reached similar conclusions.
And before somene talks about building a longer fence at our Southern border, keep in mind that it is not clear precisely how Carranza came to the United States. Was he a visa overstay? If so, a border fence would not have prevented his lawful entry.