Border Crime

Alex Nowrasteh at Cato shows that crime is lower in counties adjacent to the Mexican border than in the rest of the United States:

If the entire United States had crime rates as low as those along the border in 2017, then the number of homicides would have been 33.8 percent lower, property crimes would have been 2.1 percent lower, and violent crimes would have dropped 8 percent.

Obviously border counties are different than non-border countries, more rural etc. Nevertheless, the raw fact is striking in comparison to the heated rhetoric about illegal immigration and American blood.


I disagree that the raw fact is striking. A properly calibrated/controlled number that suggested something similar would be striking. The apples to oranges number is just unclear.

There are 83 cities in the US with >250k people 4-5 of them are "border" cities. San Diego (1.4 million), El paso (700k), Tucson (600k, 60 miles to the border), Chula Vista (250k), Laredo (250k). All 5 of them are in the safest 20% of cities with >250k people, safety in physical terms with regards to each of murder, manslaughter, and violent crime. The bigger cities there, San Diego and El Paso, are both in the top 4 (Honolulu, El Paso, Austin, San Diego) for safest cities, in terms of those same three metrics, with over 400k or 700k people.

That seems interesting but it just isn't clear what we can conclude without understanding whether, for example, Texan cities in general are safer than Eastern seaboard cities... etc. Again there is need for a controlled comparison -- why even bother discussing rawish numbers?

I was interested so I ran a regression, which , of Violent Crime Outcomes on Population, State fixed effect, unemployment rate, median HHInc, and a dummy for border city.

The coefficient is negative with respect to each of the violent crime outcomes for the border-city dummy, although it isn't significant (p-value was between .3-.45 for each). The state fixed effects for AZ, CA, and TX are all negative, even when omitting the unemployment and income variable. The results aren't materially different whether the unemp. or hhinc variables are included.

I realize this doesn't control for all sorts of unobservable variables and endogenous issues with policing of border vs. non-border cities.

As you properly recognize, endogeneity is a big problem with your specification, hence your findings are malinformative.

It's not malinformation, it simply means that the area near the border is safer than areas not near the border. I'm not trying to identify the casual mechanism merely identifying the correlation with respect to distance to the border.

When you add people employed in law enforcement per 10,000 population as a control variable it doesn't change the result for the border cities. I'm guessing the form of endogeneity you think exists is that law enforcement would be more prevalent and intense in the border areas leading to less crime? The piece I find interesting is that, including local, state and federal law enforcement employees, border cities are actually less policed than similar sized cities.

The second thing I keep seeing people say is that illegal immigrants aren't staying in border areas. This is provably false. Go to migration policy institute and look at the by county distributions of illegal immigrants, and what you will see is that counties near the border have higher illegal immigrant %'s of pop than counties within the state that are farther away, and states near the border have higher illegal immigrant %'s than states farther away.

It would be interesting to see crime stats in these same cities broken down by ethnicity and compared with similar cities. Are non-hispanic whites and blacks more or less likely to engage in criminal activities in these cities?

If the answer is equal or more it points to illegal immigrants committing less crimes than expected, If less, then it would indicate the population is less criminal for other reasons.

Also, how hard is it to look at two large cities well away from the border, one with a large number of illegal immigrants one without and compare the stats?

According to a 2011 Obama Administration Report, 52.5% of murders in the U.S. in 1980-2008 were committed by the 13% of that population that is black:

So, crime statistics are to a first degree of approximation a question of Where the Blacks Are, which is not in border counties.

This is not exactly the kind of thing that the news media reports much, so it's easy for people like Alex Nowrasteh to fool naive Americans with disingenuous statistics.

So. You're against this whole border wall immigrant crime hysteria business too. Strange bedfellows.

"those with criminal convictions made up 5.2 percent of those deemed inadmissible to the U.S. (204,288) in that 11-month period, and 56.5 percent of total inadmissibles were encountered at ports of entry along the Southwest border."

Sounds valuable to me. And the wall does it better, and more cheaply than just funding a lot of agents.

Inadmissibilty statistics are derived from lawful entry attempts. Inadmissibilty is likely to be much higher among those who attempt illegal border crossings; many know they are not admissible.

How can funding a wall be cheaper? The entire idea is to improve border security. Reducing the number of agents would not only weaken border security but also contradict one of Trump's reigning tenets - creating more jobs. The BP budget will stay the same and if the wall is built, it will be an initial lump sum cost with ongoing maintenance and repairs expenses.

It's cheaper than the ongoing costs of the illegal immigrants coming across. Just educating the kids is >$120k each for all 12 years. Add heathcare and other costs involved. One estimate has the cost at $136 B a year, vs $30 to build the wall.

Is the limiting factor the wall, or people to patrol the wall? Even a 30-foot wall can be climbed over in less than 10 minutes. If the idea is to slow people down enough for BP to catch them, you still need more people.

I don't mind more border security, but it seems there are at least three things ahead of more walls: 1. more enforcement of E-Verify, which is often ignored even in states with "mandatory" E-Verify. 2. more enforcement of making people leave after their Visas are up. 3. more people to patrol the wall.

@Steve Sailer
According to a 2011 Obama Administration Report, 52.5% of murders in the U.S. in 1980-2008 were committed by the 13% of that population that is black:

So, crime statistics are to a first degree of approximation a question of Where the Blacks Are, which is not in border counties.

Which sort of proves the case that more Hispanic Immigration will lower crime rates and the chance that any given individual will be a victim of crime. Hispanics commit crime at about the rate whites do.

Also note the fall in black crime in New York city and Miami FL, cities high in black immigrants, it looks like black immigrants influence the behavior of native blacks enough the crime rate among native blacks falls.
Perhaps the USA should try recruiting potential black immigrants who have college degrees.

What's concerning, though, to immigration skeptics like me is that Central American cities are pretty violent, overall, and it doesn't seem all that unreasonable to think that however nice and safe and friendly El Paso might be right now, that could change over the long run and start to resemble Tijuana, which had the 5th highest murder rate of any city in the world in 2017.

To me that is not an unreasonable fear, but I think that the evidence is pretty good that that will not happen and so it's not worth so much worry. The country that people live in is a big factor in crime. The odds of being caught quickly is a big factor. That is especially true in outside of the home crime, like young men killing other young men over turf and as part of drug distribution networks. If it does break down it will probably be young men killing each other, I think USA government will keep extortion from and kidnapping of innocent people to a minimum.

I'd just assume not find out, quite frankly.

They’re 85% less likely than natives to commit crimes.

85%. Not 8.5%.

Even if you are pro-immigration, a number like "85% less likely to commit crime" is one of those numbers that is too good to be true.

As skeptics of the wall frequently point out, the biggest groups of illegal immigrants are people who overstay their visas. They are professional-class, already vetted once, and usually out (or just about to age out) of the 16-24 age range where crime happens most. The null hypothesis is that they have the same crime rate as native professionals of the same age. If we segment them out, what is the crime rate of those who illegally cross the border?

El Paso is 84% Hispanic. How much more like Hispanic can it possibly get?

Maybe the people who flee violence aren't themselves violent.

I did not know that; very fair point.

El Paso has been very Hispanic for centuries. I don't think Hispanics in general are any more violent that the general population here, but we're talking about those entering illegally, not a random sampling.

Adjusted for all factors, by definition any statistical study fails to reject the null hypothesis. I bet that security is 'tighter' at US border towns, so the bad guys are on the non-US side of the border. Put another way: I bet crime is actually higher on the Mexican side of the US-Mex border, compared to Mexican crime, just like US crime is lower on the US side of the US-Mex border, compared to US crime. It's the more policemen deterring criminals. A study once found criminals avoid states and areas that have tough anti-crime laws and lots of police, which is rational behavior, they also favor robbing places near highways, so they can make a speedy getaway. Freakonomics!

The wetbacks don't hang out near the border - they skidaddle asap and head NW, N, and NE toward the jobs and bennies. No reason to stick around.

Correct. I don't know why this isn't obvious to others.

This is easily found data and you are wrong. Illegal immigrant populations (and% of Pop) are higher for states near the border, and within those border states the counties adjacent to the border have higher rates of illegal immigrants than those further away from the border.

A few minutes of research and you could have found this out, but you prefer ignorance and emotional reactionary-ism to reality

If it were not for white nationalism and racism, all 25 million illegals/criminals would be MD's; econ. PHD's; medal of honor winners; first responders; discoverers of cures for cancer, AIDS, and halitosis; . . .

Josh; you are wrong. Simple statistics.

There are simply far fewer locales near the border than away from it. In the same way there are more places distant from anywhere than there are close to anywhere. Most wetbacks leave the area ASAP as other commentators have pointed out. Even though the border area has a higher proportion of wetbacks than non-border areas, it has an absolute minority of them overall.

I do.

They cost, not factoring body counts, at least $100 billion a year.

I filed this under, "Notes From The Educational Apocalypse."

Even worse, the so-called study (post-modern ideology and propaganda not science) fails to include in crime data the 12 or 25 million illegal invaders that moved through each border county.

Screw the Wall. Put a bounty on them.

This is easily found data and you are wrong. Illegal immigrant populations (and% of Pop) are higher for states near the border, and within those border states the counties adjacent to the border have higher rates of illegal immigrants than those further away from the border.

A few minutes of research and you could have found this out, but you prefer ignorance and emotional reactionary-ism to reality

The problem here is that 'illegal immigrant' is not a monolithic population. Some people cross the border to get casual labor jobs in the border counties. Some cross because they are transporting drugs or other contraband. Some cross because they are criminals either escaping justice or seeking greener hunting grounds. Some are refugees from poverty, violence, or corruption.

You can't simply assume that because a larger proportion of immigrants stay in the border counties, and those counties have lower crime than average, that immigrants create less crime than average. It may simply be that the 'good' immigrants stay in the border counties and work, while the 'bad' ones head for the big cities or other areas where they can do whatever bad things it is they do.

And of course, if there are serious bad actors mixed in with them (ISIS, MS-13, etc), those people are not likely to stay in the border counties, and it doesn't take very many of them to make the net effect on crime mich worse.

Until you understand the sorting mechanisms affecting the immigrants, you can't make claims about their overall criminal nature by looking at one particular cohort.

There is something to this. I live in San Diego - it is startlingly safe, unlike any Eastern or Midwestern city I've ever been in. (Austin is similar.) Tijuana has 1800 homicides a year. Go figure.

My impression is that binational bad guys who are looking forward to a life of crime favored the U.S. as their base of operations back in the 1970s. (See Wambaugh's "Lines and Shadows.") But after Mexico took over from Colombia as the main cocaine middleman in the 1990s, these days scary guys with roots on both sides of the border see Mexico as offering more opportunity to the criminally inclined.

Say you were born in 1950 and grew up, speaking both Spanish and English, with relatives in both Mexico and America. Any you were the kind of guy, by both nature and nurture, who thought that murdering people for money was your dream job.

Which country would you choose to make your career in? My guess is that in 1970, when you are 20, you'd choose to make your criminal career in rich and liberal California rather than poor and police state Mexico.

In contrast, say you were the same guy with the same binational nature and nurture, but you were born in 1990. In 2010, where'd you prefer to make your career in crime: in the U.S., with its long prison sentences, or with a cartel in cocaine Mexico?

My guess is that in 2010, you'd opt for Mexico, where in recent decades, Crime Does Pay.

"I live in San Diego - it is startlingly safe."

Similarly, areas where the Border Patrol operates near the Mexican border have fewer illegal immigrants than further north. When I visited Sierra Vista, AZ (southeast of Tucson) in 2003, I was startled that the maids cleaning my motel room were non-Hispanic white and black. I'd gotten used to maids further north, as in Las Vegas, being overwhelmingly Hispanic. But illegal aliens don't stick around in Sierra Vista because the Border Patrol is everywhere that close to the border.

Similarly, illegal aliens don't seem to stick around in San Diego, preferring to get lost in Los Angeles where the BP doesn't operate. The construction of the San Ysidro border wall in the 1990s did a lot for the San Diego area, which seems to be quietly turning into America's utopia.

This is precisely the point. If you are trying to show that Trump's rhetoric is wholly based in fear-mongering fantasy, you are probably right, but this data doesn't prove much. The illegal aliens would never stay in the counties that, for example, allow police to stop and search anyone they feel may look like an illegal immigrant.

Homicide is the notable stat in the comparison. Given that African Americans account for a disproportionate share of homicides, how many African Americans live near the Mexican border?

Obviously, since America needed cheap foreign labor to pick cotton hundreds of years ago, driving up the homicide rate today, it's imperative to import more cheap foreign labor to pick strawberries.

exactly right

Yesterday's strawberry pickers will be tomorrow's gang bangers.

Though seriously, very few illegal alien wetbacks work in agriculture. Most work in services, construction, and hospitality.
The next generation works as translators to aid the next wave of no-docs. It never ends.

Have you noticed all the counter people at medical facilities are Spanish speaking Latinas. I guess you need Mexicans to talk to Mexicans, though some new migrants don't even speak Spanish but rather speak some Mexican-Indian jungle dialect. Those people will assimilate, according to the left. Not a chance says I.

Build the wall and make it tall - really tall and wall to wall. Turn on e-Verify. Wait for the screaming, ranting, wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

Execute those that hire illegals. I bet that would be pretty effective.

They'll either assimilate or pack up and go home. It's always worked that way with immigrants and all the available hard data shows it still does

Sure, much like the white settlers assimilated with the Native population in America...

I don't mean that illegal hispanics are likely to be a large threat, I'm just poking holes in the silly argument that:

"It's always worked that way with immigrants.."

First generation may not assimilate. That's common enough. The second generation may not either; again, that's common enough.

But as long as the "cultural appropriation is evil" crowd isn't allowed to gain too much headway, assimilation is inevitable. Because the USA's culture is to find the best in any culture and run with it. That's why we have Chinese buffets--the Chinese don't have a Sabbath to keep holy, so they were able to keep restaurants open on Saturday and Sunday. That's why we have the foods we do in general--much of what we think of as American food was developed elsewhere, we just adopted it. Same with music. Even our language is an amalgamation of other languages--someone speaking actual Anglo-ish (ie, only using words from the Anglo language) sounds stilted and horribly old-fashioned.

Does the researcher presume that the people crossing the border remain in the counties they crossed over into, or that once in the country they move to other counties? Seems logical to me that they would move to other counties as soon as possible to places where there isn't law enforcement who are solely focused on catching them, and who best understand their potential criminal patterns. So in reality it would only be surprising if the number were higher in border towns who put so many resources specifically to protect against illegal immigrants and crime.

Then we should compare crime rates in counties with high numbers of recent immigrants versus counties without such high numbers. Instead of just looking at counties along the border.

+1, this would seem to be the correct approach.

Bad data, bad assumptions but a huge leap to a conclusion.

Alex, this is dumb.

It would be dumb even if it were something that could be taken at face value.

"Compared to the hellholes of violence and murder that are Democrat cities, border areas are relatively safe. This proves that we should enact Democrat policies at the border."

Imma gonna come over the border and commit me some crime where all the ICE, Border Patrol and DEA guys are. Yep, that; what Imma gonna do.

Yes, Trump's arguments about crime aren't very good, and they aren't very convincing.

The reason immigration is important is because it will determine what sort of country we will pass down to our children and their children, whether the population of tomorrow will resemble the schools today that parents want to send their children to, or the schools today that parents will do anything to remove their children from.

"The reason immigration is important is because it will determine what sort of country we will pass down to our children and their children"

Very much so. It will determine whether the country has a shrinking, graying population and struggles to pay an ever growing population of retirees or whether the country remains younger, growing and dynamic. Our native birthrate is well below replacement and declining. Only continued substantial immigration can make up the difference and preserve something like our current state. Cut off immigration and you'll condemn your descendants into living in a different kind of country than the one you've experienced.

The people entering illegally across the border are not going to be funding Social Security and Medicare for current citizens. They are generally at best going to work in low paying jobs, pay little in taxes, and create a net burden on the education, health care, and social services system, and eventually Social Security and Medicare.

Selective merit based immigration of highly skilled persons with well above average economic potential, who are English speaking and likely most able to assimilate, is probably an advantage.

The area where I live is by census about 50% immigrants, primarily South and East Asian. Lots of doctors and engineers. These folks are legal immigrants, and will be a net gain to the country. The people illegally entering across the southern boarder will not.

Immigrants already make up about 15% of the US population. Its already quite a different country.

Immigrants, and their descendants make up over 95% of the US population. Of course the illegal entrants are going to be concentrated in low-paying jobs, few of them have an American education, which seems to become less effective daily. The illegals aren't the cause of the US public school deterioration.

Lots of doctors and engineers. These folks are legal immigrants, and will be a net gain to the country.

Not to the native doctors and engineers, they're competitors. You could say that the US needs more doctors. Why not increase admissions to medical schools? Why is it better to admit foreign doctors than train domestic ones?

Immigrants and their descendants make up 100% of the population of every country. The current percentage of foreign born (~15% in the US) give an indication of the recent/current magnitude of flow, and the scale of the assimilation issue.

I'm happy to train more doctors in the US, we should probably be doing that. Bu that's not the point under discussion.

The claim was that the illegal immigrants coming over the border are going to be important to our "struggles to pay an ever growing population of retirees". The guy coming in with a 4th grade education who doesn't speak English isn't going to do that. The immigrant MD eye surgeon - whether he received his medical training in the US or not - is.

"struggles to pay an ever growing population of retirees"

Yes, that is the ultimate point under discussion. In a corporate state where consumerism is the focus of the economy and churning of money and economic growth are necessary to prevent social disaster the idea of savings is anathema. Retail sales are the index of prosperity. Ergo it's up to the citizens of the future to pay for the necessities of their parents and grandparents, since the old-timers have spent their money on bass boats and big-screen TVs while promising million dollar retirement benefits to public employees. It doesn't require much thought to realize that this is the definition of a Ponzi scheme. While commenters worry over the culture that will be passed down to their offspring they're actually more concerned over who will pay the salaries of the ladies who speak English as a second language that change their adult diapers during commercials in Seinfeld re-runs. The kids will determine the dimensions of their own culture without grandpa's help.

The immigrant eye surgeon can contribute to the finance of retiree benefits through the confiscation of his income, realized by satisfying demand for his services. If there were no demand for the services of the itinerant chicano landscapers and roofers they would be home in Morelia or Cuernavaca.

**Human civilization has always been a Ponzi scheme.**

New entrants are always needed to support the existing population.

Fortunately, old people die off and leave their stuff to younger generations or just consume everything they've accumulated.

My grandfather worked to support his children and his parents. My father worked to support his parents and his children. I'll work to support my parents and my children. And so on down the line.

It's just the natural cycle of the generations. There are always new generations of children that must be invested in to support the next generation's economy.

Look, there's nothing "striking" about it when you actually look at what's happening instead of being mesmerized by the stats.

We know in general that when a metropolitan area has some areas that are well-policed and some areas that are more poorly policed, criminals tend to favor the areas that are more poorly policed.

Thus, for example, large drug deals rarely take place in wealthy suburbs rather than in the "bad neighborhoods". Following that activity, robberies of drug dealers take place in the "bad neighborhoods", violence between drug dealers takes place in the "bad neighborhoods", and so on. Streetwalkers walk the streets in the "bad neighborhoods", so prostitution busts happen in the "bad neighborhoods", people assaulting streetwalkers happens in the "bad neighborhoods", pimps beating up deadbeat clients happens in the "bad neighborhoods", would-be johns get robbed in the "bad neighborhoods", and so on. More examples of crimes that can be relocated just a few miles, and drag related crimes with them are left as an exercise for the student.

And similarly to how such activity is displaced to the "bad neighborhoods" in, say, Dallas, it also gets displaced to the "bad neighborhoods" in El Paso. It's just the "bad neighborhoods" are on the other side of an international border. Only a total idiot would engage in criminal activity and related acts under the jurisdiction of the United States/State of Texas if it was reasonably convenient to instead to engage in it in Mexico/the State of Chihuahua; that is possible in El Paso but not in Dallas.

Accordingly, a lot of the "demand" for criminal activity generated by the population of El Paso is supplied in Ciudad Juarez. Those crimes don't get counted in the El Paso stats because it happens that El Paso's "bad neighborhoods" are on the other side of the international border, while Dallas's aren't.

And, well, Mexican immigrants do not get right across the border and stop moving; they migrate substantially inward of the borders. Dallas has a lot of Mexican immigrants, but no convenient nearby outpost of Mexican law enforcement standards. So the effect of an immigrant propensity to commit crime will not show up as a localized crime increase in El Paso over Dallas, while a propensity of criminals to avoid law enforcement will show up in lower crime rates in El Paso versus Dallas.

Also, the Texas border area doesn't get many immigrants because it's full of Mexican-Americans and thus isn't very prosperous.

Likewise, New Mexico has been quite Hispanic for hundreds of years and thus isn't attractive to new immigrants because old Hispanics don't generate a lot of wealth.

In other words, there are very few blacks in border counties.

Does Steve ever wish he had a delete button, for the too-obvious reveals?

Steve Sailer reads the NY Times so others don't have to, which I appreciate, and comes up with some unique "takes" - and takes are big right now. He seems to be pretty sui generis, though - at least, I know of no imitators - and his one little voice, however rude, can hardly have much of an impact, nor cause you much worry. But I think for the more general purpose of setting and making understood the limits of permissible discourse you should state clearly whether you object to:

*his mentioning the Obama admin. report
*his presumably repeat mentioning of the report (relatedly, if at all, may it be mentioned once a year, or once when it was released and never again thereafter?)
*his mentioning it in this context
*the report itself
*any such reporting of stats re the perpetrators and victims of crime
*the facts underlying this particular report (i.e. was it fake news?)
*the publication of the report, because it will be misused - are you okay with the government trying to collect this sort of data, but would prefer it kept secret?

All of the above.

In Europe it’s illegal to collect crime statistics by race, ethnicity, national origin or religion. We should pass similar laws, and we will once Trump is safely ensconced in a 8x10 cell in Terra Haute.

The smoking gun was already found. Trump sending polling data to Russian spies. So much for no collusion

No weaseling, I'll give you that! And I wouldn't be surprised if many others here would agree with you if it was part of a larger cessation of race-data collection in all arenas, what you object to in Steve Sailer being merely the punchline of a long joke told by the government.

FYI, that was not the same anonymous. Not that I care in this setting.

.....did anyone click the link?

I should add that another feather in Sailer's cap is filling Joan Didion's long-vacated gig of Understanding California, and his interests are much broader than hers were. My state of 28 million has no one (!) like that.

Crime should also include illegal crossings which are neglected in the author's data.

- It's imperative that we step up enforcement of speed limits because speeders cause so much crime!

- That's terrible! Which crimes!?

- Speeding, of course!

Thanks for a morning chuckle (or wait -- were you serious?)

What happens if we isolate Chicago and DC from the rest of the US?

I am just glad I didn't make up to a phony invocation of emergency powers.

And to give something to Trump, he has been treating border security seriously. His self-own is just to get caught up in "the wall" as the only dimension of his success. He should have just counted border arrests, like a normal person. And congratulated himself for a job well done.

(And then maybe provided safe housing for those arrested.)

Er, wake up, not make up.

The problem at the Mexican border cannot be solved with a Wall, because no Wall will stop immigrants showing up at the Wall seeking asylum. The problem is that there are insufficient personnel to process and adjudicate the cases, causing backlogs of months if not years, resulting in thousands of immigrants at the border overloading a system that cannot contain them all. Is the situation sufficiently grim to be a "crisis"? According to DT it is a "crisis". But recall that during the 2016 campaign, DT repeatedly said that all of America (especially the cities) is in "crisis", a "crisis" of such magnitude that only he could solve, and solve with the force of his personality and with the extraordinary powers of the president. This "crisis" at the border is no different from the "crisis" across America: it's a political stunt that scares DT's base and reinforces their support for him, his breaks from social and political norms, and his attempts to exercise extraordinary powers. DT has been screaming fire since he became president, fires that he lighted, from North Korea and the "crisis" of a nuclear war to China and the "crisis" of a trade war, "crises" that he did not solve because he created them out of whole cloth, making it possible for him to "solve" simply by announcing that he had solved them. Indeed, the only thing DT has accomplished in two years is the tax cut, but the tax cut delivered is the opposite of the tax cut he promised during the campaign: during the campaign he promised a tax cut for the working class and explicitly not for the wealthy. The problem facing DT is that he must continually escalate the "crisis" in order to maintain the support of his base. At some point the escalation will create a real crisis.

The problem facing DT is that he is busted, and it doesn't work anymore.

Douthat agrees.

That's an astute article. The key point being that the facts on the ground have changed (volume of illegal immigration, and character). The whole immigration argument, like so many of our arguments, is close to a 50/50 thing.

Arguably, this was the #1 reason Trump won. But why didn't he push the Wall through right away, with a GOP Congress? Presumably because the Dems would wash their hands of the whole thing- some political calculation or other.

I'm guessing the GOP figured enough Dems would have to join in based on their own political calculations to push it through. And/or Dems would feel pressure from the shutdown.

For context, it should be noted that Obama and Schumer have a long history of speaking about the subject using terms like "illegal aliens", "border security". I saw Schumer asking for $6.5 billion for the border in some c-span clip from a few years back.

Anyway, Trump seems to be losing the shutdown battle, but again, the key thing is that the immigration crisis has subsided. And Trump has nothing like the nuance to shape a message to the new reality, just the same old cudgel.

Overall, looks like a political gamble the GOP and Trump took and are losing. If Trump doesn't get his wall, I think his own supporters start packing it in. This would be real blood in the water.

"Arguably, this was the #1 reason Trump won. But why didn't he push the Wall through right away, with a GOP Congress? "

Because Trump wouldn't have gotten 60 votes in the Senate (there weren't that many Republicans) and it would have backfired to shutdown the US government if the Republicans obstensively controlled Congress. Now Trump can shutdown the US government in a fight with a 'Democratic' Congress. Granted, the Senate is still Republican, but the Democrats weren't smart enough to emphasis that fact. Schumer and Pelosi wanted a public fight. I assume they thought Trump would cave in front of the media pressure like previous Republican Presidents have.

I think Trump won because "burn it down" populism really had sway in 2016. When anyone who could read, let alone write, a 5 page memo on any subject was an "elitist." Which was really sad, because you can't run a nation of 300 million people on gut instinct

.. as is now sadly demonstrated.

The immigration saga was just one facet of that: gut, over study and policy memos.

As final evidence of that, what was actually wrong with Jeb Bush? He was too normal.

I really want to re-up this, the guy who understands what just happened.

What breathless obtuseness!

Illegal aliens don't STAY at the border. They pass through border counties and move on quickly to cities all over the country, often picked up by coyotes near the border.

Not only do they not stay there, the border counties have fewer opportunities for crime. The aliens are usually not armed, but the US populace near the border are heavily armed.

The aliens commit crimes after they run out of resources or after their teen kids are recruited by urban gangs.

27% of all federal, state and local inmates are illegal aliens. That's 350,000 of them at ANY GIVEN TIME. The average criminal alien has twelve offenses.

The population of criminal aliens is far larger and in the millions. Many have been released after serving time (or probation) and many have never been caught for their crimes.

Catapult the propaganda!

A point I'm now saved the trouble of making. Anyone who has followed the more spectacular cases knows that these horrific crimes take place in places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, not at the border.

The study is about a half-step away from the classic "Most crime takes place in bad neighborhoods. And most police activity also takes place in bad neighborhoods. Therefore if we take the police out of the bad neighborhoods, crime will vanish!"

27% of all federal, state and local inmates are illegal aliens.

Citation please.

I think it would be difficult to supply a citation - but that in itself is rather telling. We count so many things ...

Texas (inadvertently?) released the information that - with the caveat that this figure only included aliens who had prior interactions with DHS and so were known to it, so an undercount - over 250,000 criminal aliens were booked in Texas local jails between June 2011 and April 2018.

Obviously, I'm not good with numbers; presumably this is nothing, and if you add in the kids of immigrants, with their higher-than-first-generation rate of committing crime, still probably negligible. All the same, I am interested in the economic argument for why we need all this extra crime on top of our own? I know there is one, but I can't remember what it is.


I am fond of strawberries, though only in summer. I think it's weird people keep them in their fridge year-round. Most of those come from Mexico, I believe.

We get the most wonderful produce, being near Mexico. The other day an avocado truck turned over on the interstate, and it was so heavy, they couldn't even right it.

I think the crime is a red herring. I don't see any significant evidence illegal immigrants are above average criminals compared to native at the same low economic level.

The important factor is that they put downward wage pressure on unskilled native workers and they pay below average taxes. Both of those factors harm natives.

Probably best not to look into drunken driving. That's gonna have to be a cultural change. For the natives, that is. One I suppose Cato Institute-types will welcome. I'm surprised one of the Alexes hasn't taken up the subject.

*some natives, of course, those who were taking the public service announcements to heart

Trump made an argument about drug traffic? Is he right that most of the illegal narcotics flow up across the Mexican border? My impression is that he is right.

That has nothing to do with homicide statistics. But it is related to 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017.

Also, it is silly to talk about Hispanic and black as if they are different things. An "Hispanic" can be any race.

Finally, Americans make the mistake of thinking that the illegals are Mexican because they cross the Mexican border. Currently, they are heavily Central Americans crossing Mexico to the US. The US border is really not Mexico's northern border but its southern border. Mexico could stop this crisis if it wanted to. And if Central Americans are so peaceful and law-abiding, why does Central America have among the highest violence rate on earth?

How are drugs actually smuggled?

Yes, he is right. Mexico has supplanted other countries as the main middlemen in the heroine trade.

Deaths due to illegal drugs includes both overdoses as well as gang violence. One could also add drug induced violence either from drug effects or to raise cash to buy drugs.

68% of criminal aliens are Mexican.

Over 90% of criminal aliens come from Latin American countries (Mexico, El Salvador, Columbia, Honduras) plus Jamaica.

Because Hispanics can be of any race (but are mostly White) then their crime statistics are likely understated. Up until recently, US crime statistics included Hispanics among Whites. Low-crime Asians were included in Non-Whites which are dominated by Blacks, hence understating Black crime.

Central America DOES have some of the highest crime rates. Look at murder rates for Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia and El Salvador, Venezuela. They are 3 to 10 times the rate of the US.

David Frum: "Trump will cope by locking himself into the Fox News closed-feedback system of flattering disinformation, emerging only to emit enraged tweets pretending he won big and denouncing the media for reporting otherwise. He might even convince himself to believe it. His political allies will repeat it without believing it."

I think this must be the lie you don't really believe, that heroin is carried on people's backs across the desert and that only a wall can srop it.

Remember the drug submarines? Those things have to be autonomous and unmanned by now. Ah yes:

"Sometimes the Coast Guard intercepts a sub only to have the drugs disappear. Smugglers will drag an unmanned vessel behind the main boat, 100 feet below the surface. Once discovered, they sink the cocaine-stuffed drone so that another group can later track it on encrypted transmitters, recover the drugs, and continue delivery."

Smugglers ship by the ton.

Clearly you're confusing combatting some of the problem with most of the problem.

You're also confusing attacking sets of problems with attacking one problem.

The wall makes some degree of illegal migration and drug trafficking far more difficult. This allows us to focus more resources on other methods and problems. The relevant policy question is whether the benefits of the wall outweigh its costs, not whether the wall solves all or even most of the problems.

No one believes the wall provides maximum return on investment, where "return" in this case means interdiction.

Or can you show me that a dollar spent on the wall will stop more drugs than a dollar spent at the Coast Guard?

Because that would be the rationalist approach, to identify those areas where a dollar of spending makes the greatest difference.

(I honestly believe the wall is a vanity project at this point, and no one is doing that kind of math.)

Oh, bullshit.

If funded, the wall be built by federal contractors who will subcontract much of the actual work to construction firms in the region staffed largely by the very sort of immigrants the wall is intended to keep out. To put it mildly, a non-zero number of those firms and workers will be infiltrated/corrupted by organized crime who will happily fund access points and shortcuts through the wall, negating its purpose. The security value of the wall is marginal to nil.

The wall is a symbolic boondoggle. A pacifier for the wailing, colicky infant that is Trump's white nationalist base.

"will be infiltrated/corrupted by organized crime who will happily fund access points and shortcuts through the wall "

This is some classic conspiracy thinking.

I don't think the wall will be very effective, but it takes a certain level of crazy to think that the construction people will . . . what, leave big holes in the wall that no one ever knows about?

Yes, as well all know, illegal aliens will travel thousands of miles to come to the US border.... and then stop at the first state they come to.

What does the crime rate for immigrants in Canada and Australia look like? Would there be the same demand to limit immigration if instead of poor Hispanics moving to the US, we had people moving from South, Southeast, and East Asia moving here to work in construction, agriculture, and low cost wage service jobs? My suspicion is that the conversation would be different, in part because the kids of those immigrants would not assimilate nearly as much to US working class/poor norms, but instead would be more upwardly mobile while less assimilated. You know, more American Born Chinese, instead of Chinese-American, etc.

Bentsen_Rio Grande Valley State Park is a good place to birdwatch, and also to Border Patrol watch. There were half a dozen Border Patrol SUVs there the day I visited, about 10 years ago.

And the Border Patrol forms just a part of law enforcement presence in the Valley ...

Take all that away, maybe we would have better information - maybe we would find those counties were even more peaceful.

Incidentally, passed through a border county housing development, wherein a number of LEOs reside, the other day and was told it was rumored to be "owned by the cartel." So there may be some peacekeeping collaboration from that direction as well.

I was thinking the same thing. You don't want a lot of crime at the boarder, because crime attracts police. If you want to quietly cross, you want those areas to be otherwise peaceful (though not, perhaps, so peaceful that it attracts attention). That way there are fewer LEOs and more holes in the security.

Anything that convoluted is almost certainly going to be wrong, but it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

Muh wall!

Proponents of increased immigration can point to cherry picked scenarios like Alex T is doing. A better example, is Compton, California which was infamous for horrible street crime, and immigration sharply drove crime down and dramatically improved the city. Proponents of reduced immigration can point to lemon picked scenarios like the French Banlieues, which experienced sharp spikes in crime with immigration. This tactic of simply choosing scenarios that support your prior policy position is a rather petty one.

We can build computer models that predict a potential immigrant's likelihood of raising or lowering crime. This would be similar to how banks or insurance companies estimate various risks with high accuracy. A similar prediction can be done for using social services. Some migrants are net contributors, other migrants are net takers, and we can predict this with imperfect accuracy.

One option is: the computer model solves the problem. Use selective immigration policy that will grant entry to foreigners with probability of providing positive effects and exclude foreigners with probability of having negative effects. That's the America First restrictionist philosophy. I suspect AT strongly disagrees with this.

I suspect AT harbors the closeted view that even though some migration does increase crime, and that can be predicted and avoided, citizens still don't have a moral right to exclude foreigners. In that case, the honest approach would be to say that, and not try to distract attention away from the avoidable negative impacts caused by immigration including crime.

"A better example, is Compton, California which was infamous for horrible street crime, and immigration sharply drove crime down and dramatically improved the city."

As this suggests, a lot of white liberal support for immigration is as a cover for ethnically cleansing African-Americans out of big cities.

Of course, displaced black Comptonites don't vanish into thin air, they just go someplace else in America.

A good example of this is East Palo Alto, CA, which used to be quite black. It was, briefly, the Murder Capital of America during the Crack Wars of the early 1990s. But the blacks have largely been replaced by Latinos in East Palo Alto, and property values in next door Palo Alto now tend to be approaching $2 million per thousand square feet.

So, the billionaires of Palo Alto (e.g., Mark Zuckerberg) tend to be highly enthusiastic about more immigrant servants for themselves and handing off the historic hot potato of African Americans to more inland parts of America to deal with.

"As this suggests, a lot of white liberal support for immigration is as a cover for ethnically cleansing African-Americans out of big cities."

This is a cheap shot. Yes, white liberal cities do push black people out of cities like Chicago or Brooklyn or Austin, TX. And immigration did push black people out of Compton, but that was an unintended consequence. Unintended consequences are fair game when judging policies and political views. But blaming people for wicked intents that they obviously didn't have is a cheap shot.

Most of your racial focus seems off-topic for this specific thread.

The big on-topic point related to race is that the thesis expressed in this post directly contradicts the thesis of Black Lives Matters, which is also supported by the authors of this site. The thesis here is that immigration doesn't raise crime according to crime stats. The thesis of BLM is that black people have high crime rates due to racial biases embedded in US institutions. You can't have it both ways. If a large group of black Somalians immigrate to the US. Either they have a low crime rate, which vindicates US institutions and disproves the BLM hypothesis. Or they have a high crime rate which disproves the argument that immigration doesn't increase crime.

Interestingly enough, the Obama administration partially funded a security wall / fence on Jordan's border.

"The Great Wall of Jordan: How the US Wants to Keep the Islamic State Out"

"The Obama administration is spending close to a half a billion dollars to build a sophisticated electronic fence along Jordan's northern and eastern borders, a wall which US strategic planners hope will stem the flow of refugees and also wall off the increasingly important American base from the disintegration of Syria and Iraq."

So, half a billion to fund a wall on Jordan's border is OK, but 5 billion for a wall on the US border is "immoral". This whole issue stinks of partisanship.

I could easily see the positions being reversed and Obama arguing that a Wall is necessary for US security and to lower illegal immigration and Republicans arguing that it's a waste of money.

Basically what Nowrasteh is saying is that black americans have such high crime rates that they raise the average for non-border counties higher than border counties, even though whites and asians have significantly lower crime rates than hispanics in border counties.

I don't think the crime rates in border counties is a good indicator of anything related to immigration.

I live in a border county. Straight line, my house is 9 miles from the US-Mexico border. While I'm white as Wonder Bread, everyone I know nowdays is Mexican-Mexican-American.

And from my experience the illegal immigrants aren't hanging around in the border counties. They're hoofing it inland where the jobs are.

Illegal aliens are not attracted to majority Hispanic counties because majority Hispanic counties tend to not generate much wealth. The ideal for them are cities with a lot of economically dynamic white and Asian people to provide jobs and welfare, but a big enough Spanish speaking community to get lost in.

This isn't true. Lots of illegal aliens move to various hispanic majority countries in Central + South America and there is often push back and resentment. This is quite famous in Mexico and with illegal immigrants understandably fleeing Venezuela.

People want to move to wealthy, prosperous, locations with high levels of opportunity. That absolutely correlates with white people, and there is a valid case to be made that white people caused prosperity in those locations, but people would obviously want to move to any city that offered a high standard of living. Lots of people want to move to Singapore, for example.

Millions of Africans have recently moved to cities like Kinshasa, and frequently live lives of poverty. I would guess that most of those Africans would prefer Johannesburg to Kinshasa or prefer London to Johannesburg. And not because of the ethnicity of the people living there, but because London offers a nicer standard of living than Kinshasa.

The border police have jurisdiction up to 100 miles from the border. Customs checks are located about 60 miles from the border. So, it means illegals need to get about 100 miles from the border to escape, longer than any county.

People in academe should not write things they know nothing about.

El Paso crime and suicide statistics have been noted for a very long time.

One theory that has long been popular is Lithium.

Yes, I saw the El Paso lithium theory in Time magazine in 1978.

Has anybody followed it up in the 40 years since?

Also, my vague impression is that El Paso and San Antonio have a lot of the old Mexican middle class driven out of Mexico by the extremely violent Revolution of 1911-1920.

The act of crossing the US border at other than a recognized entry point, and doing so without a valid Visa or travel document is a crime, but not one of the few that is being counted by Nowrashteh. He's effectively cherry picking the level of crime to make his case. The issue is less violence than flaunting of laws.

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