March 13, 2006

Does Hispanic immigration reduce crime?

My new column: Responding to the NYT op-ed claiming that Hispanic immigration lowers violent crime.

Ill-informed and innumerate theorizing about crime trends is a popular pastime among America's ambitious academics and pundits. The latest example: Open Doors Don't Invite Criminals, a March 11th New York Times op-ed by Harvard sociologist Robert J. Sampson claiming that massive Hispanic immigration has reduced America's crime rate in recent years.

It's easy to see why this silly theorizing happens. There are vast and highly un-PC differences in criminal tendencies among the different races—for example, African-Americans wind up in prison an incredible 33 times more often per capita than Asian-Americans. So the Mainstream Media almost never dole out enough information on crime trends to foster understanding...

Now, along comes Robert J. Sampson's theory in the NYT

"[E]vidence points to increased immigration as a major factor associated with the lower crime rate of the 1990's (and its recent leveling off)."

This makes Levitt's abortion theory look like Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. I mean, Levitt's theory at least sounds semi-plausible, if you don't actually know the historical facts. But Sampson's is self-evident flapdoodle. It has to be one of the sillier theories ever seen in the New York Times—and that's saying a lot!

Even the headline is hilariously self-refuting: "Open Doors Don't Invite Criminals."

Yes, in fact, they do.

The NYT editors should try an experiment—leave the doors to their homes and automobiles open and see what happens.

Why do we see such knuckleheaded arguments in favor of immigration in the prestige press? Because incisive thinking about the subject has been ruled off-limits. If you criticized this op-ed by pointing out that the Hispanic imprisonment rate is 2.9 times the white rate, as reported in The Color of Crime 2005, recently published by Jared Taylor's New Century Foundation, then you are an evil racist and nobody should listen to you. The Establishment's most effective ploy in eliminating debate over immigration has been to insinuate that only shallow (or sick) people think deeply about immigration.


A reader comments:

I looked at the General Social Survey to calculate the percent of males ever arrested by ethnicity. It was 30% for blacks, 28% for Mexicans, 16% for the largest white group (German), and I joined Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos to create a sufficiently large Asian sample. Six percent of this group had ever been arrested. The idea that immigration lowers crime might have some credibility if the bulk of newcomers were coming from the East instead of the South. The homicide rate of Mexico is about 4 times the American rate, but I guess crossing the border magically turns these guys into choir boys. And the really low rate of violence among Hispanics would come as a big surpise to the country's half million Latino gangbangers. A recent sutdy out of Denver estimated that half of Hispanic male youths belong to a gang. I guess gangs are teaching boys to macrame these days.

I suspect that crimes other than homicide are undercounted among illegal aliens and gang members because victims are less likely to go to the police.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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