… Reason magazine boasts, for example, that El Paso, Texas, has a large Hispanic population and yet El Paso “is among the safest big cities in America.”
In fact, however, El Paso’s “safe city” ranking is based on an outdated FBI crime index that includes only eight crime categories, excluding such crimes as drunk driving, narcotics offenses and weapons violations. When the FBI’s more complete crime index is used, El Paso has a higher crime rate than the national average. … The two researchers whose work is cited over and over again for the proposition that immigrants are less criminal than Americans are Alex Piquero, criminology professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, and Bianca Bersani, sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Pew cites their studies — and everyone in the media cites Pew, leading to headlines like these:
“UT Dallas prof finds immigrant kids less likely to commit serious crimes, re-offend” — The Dallas Morning News
“UMass Boston Prof: Stereotype of ‘Criminal Immigrant’ Doesn’t Hold Up” — Targeted News Service
“Surprise! Donald Trump is wrong about immigrants and crime” — The Washington Post
Curiously, we are never shown the actual studies, but simply told — with some heat — “studies show!”
I looked up some of these alleged studies this weekend. They’re all hidden behind ridiculous Internet paywalls. I was often only the sixth person to read them.
It turns out that neither Piquero nor Bersani compared immigrant crime to “the overall population” — as the British Guardian recently claimed in an article purporting to prove Donald Trump wrong. Rather, they compare immigrants’ crime rate to the crime rate of America’s most criminally inclined subgroups.
Thus, for example, once you get past the paywall, you will find that Piquero and Bersani’s joint study, “Comparing Patterns and Predictors of Immigrant Offending Among a Sample of Adjudicated Youth,” used as its base group “adolescents who were found guilty of a serious offense.”
THAT’S NOT A REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE OF AMERICANS! It’s a representative sample of teenagers who are convicted criminals.
Similarly, professor Bersani’s oft-cited, but never-read study, “An Examination of First and Second Generation Immigrant Offending Trajectories,” looked at a population group that included “an over-sample of Hispanic and African-American youth.”
Instead of immigrants who are less crime-prone than our native blacks and Hispanics, we were hoping for immigrants less criminal than our Norwegians.
True, as Bersani explains, “because many immigrants initially settle in disadvantaged environments and are exposed to a number of crime-inducing risk factors, their experiences may be similar to many native-born minorities — particularly the African-American population.”
But here’s an idea: How about NOT taking in immigrants who are poor, uneducated, come from dysfunctional families and settle in disadvantaged environments? …