Immigration Impact Blog by Walter Ewing
There is no denying that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has a vivid imagination. As he sits in Border Patrol vehicles at night, he apparently sees hundreds of DREAM Act-eligible drug mules with muscular calves hauling heavy loads of marijuana across the border. How does he know these drug mules would meet the rather stringent criteria for legalization under the DREAM Act? Hard to say. How does he know these drug mules outnumber their valedictorian counterparts by a ratio of one hundred to one? No one can say. What is certain is this: when it comes to the topic of immigration and crime, nativists like King have no need for facts when there is so much fear and innuendo at their disposal. Perhaps this is because the facts are so stacked against them.
As numerous studies over the past 100 years have shown, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are not associated with higher rates of crime.
As King’s tales of riding with the Border Patrol illustrate, advocates of the nativist cause usually rely upon anecdotes to support their oft-repeated claim that immigrants, especially unauthorized immigrants, are dangerous criminals. This mythical claim is usually based on rhetorical sleight of hand in which individual stories of crimes committed by immigrants are presented as “proof” that we must restrict immigration in general or “get tough” on all of the unauthorized in order to save the lives of U.S. citizens. While these kinds of arguments are emotionally powerful, they are intellectually dishonest. Anecdotes are not the same as evidence, and sound public policy is based on hard data, not storytelling prowess.
- See more at Immigration Impact