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Barbara Kiviat of Time misleads about immigration and crime

Barbara Kiviat of Time Magazine offers the misleading "Does more immigration mean less crime?" [1] about a recent study from Tim Wadsworth of the University of Colorado which purports to show a reduction in the crime rate due in part to immigration. Kiviat misleads by giving the impression that the study is about the number of crimes; the rate and the number of crimes obviously aren't the same thing. In one sentence she refers to the "incidence" of crimes, but in the title and the second sentence of her post she gives a false impression. Further, she takes a swipe at Arizona at the end of her post, even though the recent Arizona law is intended to reduce illegal immigration, while the study is about all types of immigration: it was based on Census Bureau statistics which don't differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants [2].

More on the study later, but for now here's what Kiviat has to say:

Brace yourself for the backlash. University of Colorado sociologist Tim Wadsworth has a study out in Social Science Quarterly suggesting that more immigration leads to less crime. During the 1990s, the incidence of serious crime dropped in many places in the U.S. - but fastest in the cities with the largest increase in immigrants. That conclusion comes from studying demographic data from the Census for cities with more than 50,000 residents and information from the FBI about instances of homicide and robbery... ...So now just one question. Who's going to tell Arizona?

I left the following comment:

Can you trust Barbara Kiviat? Let's see:
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1. Barbara Kiviat confuses (or tries to confuse you) over the difference between the *number of crimes* and the *crime rate*. If you have 1000 crimes per year in a city, and the population of that city doubles but the number of crimes becomes 1500 per year, the *crime rate* will have fallen while the *number of crimes* has risen (and the *number of victims* has risen).
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2. There's no need to tell AZ anything: they know the situation. That's why the law has such wide support. They know that PHX is the #2 kidnapping capital in the world (behind MX City). No doubt many of them are worried about things that are even more pernicious than low-level crime, such as public officials being corrupted. Notably, Barbara Kiviat isn't concerned about that.
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3. Some forms of crime are rarely prosecuted; find me all the identity theft cases brought against illegal aliens.
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4. Does the "sociologist" look into the cultural impacts of widespread illegality by illegal aliens (crossing/overstaying, id theft, etc.)? Let me know!
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5. AFAIK, the study doesn't look at the impact of the second and third generation. Illegal aliens might avoid some forms of crime that their children and grandchildren are more than willing to engage in.
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If you still trust Barbara Kiviat's reporting, let me know.

[1] curiouscapitalist.blogs.time.com/2010/05/27/does-more-immigration-mean-less-crime/#comment-18476

[2] dailycamera.com/ci_15083416

Other tags: immigration crime

Thu, 05/27/2010 - 19:58 · Importance: 4