CPRC at Fox News: False claims on crime may allow illegal immigrants to stay in the US

Jul 29, 2014 | Featured

CPRC’s John Lott has a new op-ed at Fox News here:

Why are tens of thousands of unaccompanied children traveling thousands of miles to the U.S.? Is it to avoid violence? Or is it for a chance to live in a much wealthier country?

The answer will likely determine whether they can stay.

Last week, Fox News’ Catherine Herridge cited a government report showing that 219 of 230 illegal immigrants who were interviewed said they came to the U.S. because they thought they could get a free pass to American citizenship.

Another study, by the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security, acknowledged that many “are probably seeking economic opportunities in the U.S.” But it also noted that others “come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the U.S. preferable to remaining at home.”

Yet, despite the reverence the New York Times attaches to this one page Homeland Security report, it isn’t very convincing. It doesn’t really account for any other differences across countries. At the very least, what really needs to be done is to see how the rate of children coming from a particular country or city changes as the crime rate from that area goes up and down.

While talking to Greta Van Susteren on Thursday, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez placed the blame on violence from drug cartels as the cause of the increase in immigration. Because of the violence, President Obama is weighing granting refugee status to young people coming from Honduras.

Almost all the unaccompanied children who have arrived in the U.S. have come from three Central American countries – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – and from Mexico.

The explosive growth in the number of unaccompanied alien children occurred only after 2011. So if it has been violence that made them leave, we would expect to see a spike in violent crime in their home countries.

But that is simply not the case. In none of those countries did homicide rates rise after 2011. To the contrary, the homicide rates fell in El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico, and the rate remained unchanged in Guatemala.

Those who claim violence is driving children to the U.S. ignore that the violence isn’t new and that it was even worse in the past, when few children were coming to the U.S. on their own.

Looking at each of these four countries since 2009, when the U.S. Border Patrol data on unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. starts, through 2013, three of the four countries clearly show that fewer children left to go to the U.S. when their murder rates went up. . . .

The rest of the op-ed is available here.