Arizona crime stats contradict anti-immigrant rants

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It was a welcome relief yesterday when Judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction against key parts of SB 1070, Arizona’s police-state immigration law. Bolton’s decision blocks Arizona from enforcing the more repressive parts of the law, relating to warrantless arrests and document requirements, as well as the most controversial provision, which required that police check immigration status. Bolton’s decision will be appealed and could wind up going all the way to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, important information about crime in Arizona and other border states — info that directly contradicts the hysterical rants coming from teabagger world — has been largely ignored. While Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has ratcheted up her rhetoric about the “uncontrolled, horrendous violence,” “murder, terror, and mayhem” supposedly sweeping through her state like a hurricane, the latest crime stats say something else. Figures from the Arizona Dept. of Public Safety and the FBI actually show that violent crime rates in the state — as well as along the entire Southwest border — have been dropping for some time. According to those two agencies, here are crime facts for Arizona and the border states:

* Violent crimes in Arizona — murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — are down by 15 percent since 2006, and have been dropping every year.

* Per-capita violent crime rate in Arizona dropped 22 percent in that same time period.

*  Crime has gone down nationally, but Arizona’s drop in violent crime was actually twice as big as the national average.

* Border cities are among the nation’s safest. Yes, that includes Phoenix, where kidnappings of human smugglers and their associates have spiked. In other words, unless you’re a smuggler of humans into the U.S., you’re safer in Phoenix than in Charlotte

* Counties along the Southwest border have some of the lowest rates of violent crime per capita in the nation, with rates dropping by more than 30 percent since the 1990s.

* There is no evidence of “spillover” of violence from Mexico. Example: El Paso is next to Juarez, Mexico, which has seen brutal drug wars take thousands of lives. El Paso, by contrast, had 12 murders last year, down from 17 in 2008. And finally, the stats that would drive the bigots nuts, if they were able to admit they’re wrong:

* Cities with high numbers of immigrants are actually safer.

All of the findings contradict Gov. Brewer’s ongoing scare tactics and, frankly, paranoid delusions. When you’re telling the public that nearly “all illegal immigrants are drug mules” and so forth, even after the new crime figures were released, your state has a big problem. And it’s not the immigrant population, legal or illegal. Brewer, as the state’s top public servant, should at least stick to the facts. It would help, too, if she’d listen to the scores of police chiefs in Arizona who are opposed to SB-1070.

You can read a more complete article on the crime reports, including a link to the full report, here.

Gov. Jan Brewer: Welcome to Arizona — now let me see your papers
  • Gov. Jan Brewer: Welcome to Arizona — now let me see your papers

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