Sunday, June 24, 2018

Have Undocumented Immigrants Killed 63,000 American Citizens Since 11 September 2001?


On 22 June 2018, in the middle of a family separation crisis caused by the Trump administration’s botched “zero tolerance” policy, United States President Donald Trump himself recycled a claim that undocumented immigrants committed an abnormally large number of homicides in the United States.
“Sixty-three thousand Americans since 9/11 have been killed by illegal aliens,” the president said. “This isn’t a problem that’s going away, it’s getting bigger.”
Not only is there no evidence for his claim, it would require a seemingly superhuman murder spree by the nation’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants.
The event was held amid a cascade of public outcry against internment camps established by the government for undocumented children, which prompted the Trump administration to quickly change course and order undocumented families to be held together — while seeking the ability to do so indefinitely. But while the president accused reporters of failing to cover this alleged rash of homicides, the numbers do not support this claim.
According to data provided for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 260,743 homicides in the United States from 2002 through 2016 (the most recent year available.) It thus seems mathematically impossible that undocumented immigrants, who make up roughly 3 percent of the population, would have committed just under a quarter of all homicides in the United States during that time period. The bogus figure appears to have originated in a May 2006 post by Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa complaining about the “Day Without An Immigrant” campaign calling attention to the contributions of immigrants to U.S. community.
Without undocumented immigrants, he said, no one would smuggle drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border, and non-immigrants would be safer:
The lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day. Another 13 Americans would survive who are otherwise killed each day by uninsured drunk driving illegals. Our hospital emergency rooms would not be flooded with everything from gunshot wounds, to anchor babies, to imported diseases to hangnails, giving American citizens the day off from standing in line behind illegals. Eight American children would not suffer the horror as a victim of a sex crime.
A rate of 33 “deaths” per day for the roughly 4.5 years between the 9/11 attacks and the publication of King’s unsubstantiated claim would come out to 48,180 deaths in total, a rate that would far surpass the 63,000 number by 2018 — if it was legitimate.
Three years later, in 2009, King (who has a history of racist public statements) misrepresented a report from the Government Accountability Office, claiming that 25,064 undocumented immigrants had been arrested for homicides between 2004 and 2008. In fact, the statistic covered the time period between August 1955 and April 2010, a difference of nearly 51 years. The first, fraudulent timeframe would work out to about 17 arrests per day; the real timeframe works out to approximately 1.25 arrests of undocumented people for homicide per day, or 456 arrests per year.
If we multiply that figure by eighteen just to be generous (11 September 2001 to 22 June 2018), we get a final figure of about 8,218 arrests, as opposed to the faulty metric, which yields a total of around 112,790 homicide arrests in the same timeframe. (We will, for now, ignore the fact that arrests are not the same as convictions, and note that we did not factor in leap days.) So the numbers in the claim fall flat on both the amount of murders committed and the arrests and convictions made in those murders.
In March 2018 an Arizona woman, Mary Ann Mendoza, reportedly related to the president the claim that “63,000” United States citizens had been killed by undocumented immigrants. Mendoza’s son was killed in 2014 by an undocumented drunk driver.

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