For some of the president’s critics, the immigration issue is the ideal way to claim the White House has a pro-amnesty agenda, while depicting undocumented immigrants as a great threat to public safety. However, the numbers show the opposite picture.
A study on crime and immigrants requested by the House Judiciary Committee was intended as a platform to accuse President Obama for not deporting enough undocumented immigrants, especially the most dangerous ones. Interestingly, this claim is being made at a time the Obama administration has broken all deportation records, deporting almost 400,000 people per year, justifying it -precisely- by putting special emphasis on dangerous undocumented immigrants.
On the other hand, the Congressional Research Service report showed that in a three-year period, almost 47,000 undocumented immigrants were arrested by law enforcement agencies, supposedly brought to the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and released due to the inaction of immigration agents. Of those who were released, 7,000 were re-arrested, according to the report.
Let’s not play down the importance of every crime and its victim. But a recidivism rate of 16% is significantly lower than the 43% national average of recidivism in the prison population estimated by a Pew Center on the States study. We could even say that the undocumented who get arrested are much less prone to commit another crime than the rest of the prisoners.
But this conclusion, just like recognizing the high number of deportations that have happened over the past few years, does not agree with the narrative committee Chairman Lamar Smith wishes for, that the White House’s refusal to deport the undocumented is endangering the public safety of Americans.
In reality, the Latino community knows through first-hand experience that the focus on deporting criminals has ensnared both the innocent and the guilty. And as the report shows, the danger society faces because of undocumented reoffenders is much lower than the threat posed by reoffenders who are citizens and legal permanent residents.
Crime is an issue that should not be diminished, but the anti-immigrant rhetoric of some congressional leaders must not be allowed to turn reality upside down for their own political gain.