The Bogus Blue Line

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on May 27, 2010

In the immigration debate, you hear a lot of outlandish claims, unsupported assertions, and loud warnings so questionable they make Chicken Little sound like a calm, reasoned, level-headed voice. But the new claim by big-city police chiefs looks about as bogus as anything put forth in this debate in a while.

The Washington Post reported this bald-faced claim: "The new Arizona law will intimidate crime victims and witnesses who are illegal immigrants and divert police from investigating more serious crimes, chiefs from Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia said." These police chiefs, who are often more politician than policeman, claim that Arizona’s new state law will cause crime to rise in American cities because illegal aliens won’t report crimes.

This line has been oft repeated over the years. The part about increasing crime is something of a new twist. While immigration enforcement opponents keep using this basic talking point, they neglect to cite evidence that this is so. In our Backgrounder on the 287(g) program, Jessica Vaughan and I considered the claim. We found no evidence of local immigration enforcement leading to unreported crimes in areas where law enforcement agencies participate in the program.

National Review’s John Miller reports on the experience of Prince William County, Virginia, which has enacted a law similar to Arizona’s. The open-borders types screamed this same assertion, that it would lead to racial profiling and that illegals wouldn’t report crimes. None of those things materialized. Crime dropped. Even Latinos in the county are pleased with the increased public safety.

Miller writes:

When I asked whether she [a local advocate for "Mexicans Without Borders"] could identify a single case of a citizen or legal permanent resident, Hispanic or otherwise, who was mistakenly brought into custody because of racial profiling, she paused. Then she made a reluctant confession: "No.” In a survey, 73 percent of Hispanics said they were satisfied with the overall performance of the police department.

Sooner or later, the facts will have to beat down the falsehoods where immigration enforcement is concerned.