Anti-Immigration Sentiment: Still Not About Crime.

The arguments in favor of Arizona's draconian immigration law have already been debunked. Arizona isn't being overwhelmed by the undocumented because the undocumented population is decreasing. Crime in the U.S. is down, crime in Arizona is down "dramatically." There is no spillover violence from the border -- in fact the top four big cities with the lowest crime rates are all along the border. The federal government hasn't done "nothing"; it's deporting people in numbers higher than anything seen during the Bush administration. So there's very little empirical evidence to support the idea that Arizona is being overwhelmed by an illegal immigrant crime wave, because it isn't.

In Georgia, another draconian measure is being considered that again proves that anti-immigrant sentiment has nothing to do with crime at all. From Jessica Calefati at Mother Jones:

Georgia's Board of Regents joined the national debate on illegal immigration this week by announcing plans for its public colleges to review every student's immigration status and identify those who are undocumented, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. While illegal immigrants are allowed to attend Georgia's public colleges, they aren't allowed to enroll at the less expensive in-state tuition rate. And because undocumented students can't work legally, the higher out-of-state tuition rate is something most can't afford.

This effort cannot plausibly be directed at criminals. It is directed at those immigrants who are productive members of American society but also happen to be undocumented, including those whose only crime was being brought here by their parents when they were children. The people being targeted by this law aren't committing crimes--they're trying to get an education so they can make something of themselves. In other words, it's targeted at the kind of immigrants anti-immigration activists claim they want.

The idea that people are concerned about illegal immigration because of crime is a myth. People are being motivated by something else, and while I'm not comfortable speculating about what that is, the big story here is the degree to which anti-immigrant sentiment has absolutely nothing to do with crime.

-- A. Serwer

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