I'd need to hear the testimony or read the studies to know for sure, but I don't think I agree with reporter Diana Solis that the research presented by opposing sides was "contradictory." She wrote:
Personally, I don't see those data as contradictory at all. For starters, there's not any question - nothing to debate in the least - that incarceration rates for immigrants are eye poppingly low, much lower than for any class of citizens. The vast majority of illegal immigrants, who make up 8-9% of Texas' workforce, are behaving themselves and not committing the type of public disturbance offenses, e.g., that cause jail populations to balloon on weekends. Of that there's little question.
Legislators were presented with two contradictory studies on crime and immigration. One study, co-authored by Ruben Rumbaut of the University of California at Irvine, looked at incarceration rates among young men and showed those rates to be the lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated.
Another, authored by Carl Horowitz, of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., research center, said that criminal gangs with ties to immigrant communities are a problem "understated" in crime statistics and that immigrants are less likely to report crime, according to a presentation by one speaker.
It's also not too controversial to observe that part of the reason for those numbers is that immigrants are less likely to report crime, giving rise to a criminal population that can target people with no real recourse under law. Theft and extortion top the list of crimes these policies encourage, but family violence is another good example: Will Mommy be less likely to report Daddy if it means he'll be deported? Probably. That's a big security problem, without a doubt.
Finally, there's little doubt that the problem of criminal gangs made up of immigrants is largely "understated," if by that you mean that a few criminal immigrants - mostly associated with large multinational drug cartels like Los Zetas - account for a significant amount of crime, particularly drug smugglers and coyotes (who increasingly, thanks to beefed up anti-immigration policies, are the same people).
So all of those things can easily be true simultaneously: There's nothing "contradictory" about the information as stated here, that I can see. Indeed, that cumulative analysis underlies my own preferences for border security.
The mass of immigrants who come here to work commit few crimes and cause few problems. Lumping them in with "criminals" for enforcement purposes creates a vast cloak whose folds conceal pockets of real criminality (not just illegal entry but victimizing others) that flourish because the appellation "criminal" has been applied to so many who pose no threat.
The drug cartels, by contrast, are wealthy, well-armed multinational criminal gangs, mass murdering thugs protected by corrupt cops whose activities cannot be tolerated in a free society.
America will not succeed at "securing the border," IMO, without removing the cloak of illegal immigration from the cartels' activities. By expanding immigration quotas to match labor demands and legalizing workers already here, it would be a lot easier to target real criminals, if only because immigrant victims would report crimes and witnesses would be more likely to cooperate with police.
Plus, by reducing the targets for enforcement, greater enforcement resources can go toward combating criminal smuggling gangs and the police corruption that enables them. Not only that, a more relaxed immigration policy would remove human smuggling from the cartels' profit sources, siphoning money they're currently using to purchase grenades, bazookas, semiautomatic rifles and 50 caliber firearms.
When folks like Sue Richardson, a "leader of a Republican club in Irving," complain about the "drug traffickers and terrorists living illegally in the country," they're conflating two problems that pose very different levels of threat and require different security strategies to combat. The violence and corruption caused by criminal smuggling gangs threatens democratic institutions in ways that people who come here for jobs do not.
At root, immigration is an economic problem that law enforcement strategies can't combat. To maximize safety and target the most serious threats, America must learn to distinguish criminality from mere annoyances, and behave accordingly.
Other recent border-related posts:
- What do we know about US-side cartel infrastructure?
- It's the checkpoints, stupid
- Los Niños de Los Zetas
- Following the money in search of American drug bosses
- Ex-Im Bank stonewalling media on weak, new anti-corruption guidelines
- As Mexico fights a "hot" war against cartels, US not holding up its end
- Most drug profits go to smugglers, not producers
- US made fewer cocaine seizures in 2007
- Mexican cartels continue supplying drugs despite massive number of arrests and deaths
- Might open-sourced criminal intelligence protect journalists and strike a blow against multinational drug cartels?