Saturday, February 20, 2010

Crime and Hispanics

Over the last 8 years or so there has been a major debate in this country over immigration, especially illegal immigration. It's a significant issue with 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA, companies complaining about the inability to higher enough skilled workers, and intense public policy discussions on what to do. Politicians, like Tom Tancredo, have made a living on this issue. For whatever reason Latinos have become the face of the immigrant issue.

A subtext to the whole debate is that illegal immigrants bring crime wherever they go. In an issue as emotional intense as immigration this view is not unsurprising and has a long history in America (e.g., Irish, Italians, etc...). Combining the idea of higher crime rates with increased immigration was an easy move for anti-immigration. But is it true? Fortunately this article from the American Conservative tackles the issue straight on. Some conclusions:
Nearly all of the most heavily Latino cities have low or even extremely low crime rates, and virtually none have rates much above the national average. Eighty percent Latino El Paso has the lowest homicide and robbery rates of any major city in the continental United States. This is not what we would expect to find if Hispanics had crime rates far higher than whites. Individual cities may certainly have anomalously low crime rates for a variety of reasons, but the overall trend of crime rates compared to ethnicity seems unmistakable.
...if we restrict our analysis to major cities of half a million people or more and compare the average crime rates for the five most heavily Hispanic cities—Albuquerque, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and El Paso—to the those of the five whitest—Oklahoma City, Columbus, Indianapolis, Seattle, and Portland. This time, the more Hispanic cities are the ones with the lower crime rates—10 percent below the white cities in homicide and 15 percent lower in violent crime. A particularly remarkable result is that gigantic Los Angeles—50 percent Hispanic and frequently perceived as a dangerous urban hellhole—has violent crime rates close to those of Portland, Oregon, the whitest major city in the nation at 74 percent.
Some food for thought. HT: Marginal Revolution

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting stuff Natey. Without being really conscious of it I think I probably made of these same assumptions. Maybe that's not so surprising if you think of the reports of the over the top crime situation in Mexico and some countries in South America.

    Thanks for the post.