Even as the local media rediscover the plight of educated, innercity youth, right-wing politicians and Republican presidential candidates are using the recent Newark slayings as an excuse to further demonize immigrants.
As the news broke that one of the six people arrested for the Aug. 4 killings was Jose Carranza, an undocumented immigrant from Peru, anti-immigrant forces trumpeted the revelation. On Aug. 20, fringe Republican candidate Tom Trancedo parachuted into Newark to allege that “the fact that New Jersey — that Newark, New Jersey, is a sanctuary city for illegal aliens is well known … and Newark and its political leadership share a degree of culpability” for the murders. Sensing traction in the Republican base following Trancredo’s charges, leading candidate Mitt Romney echoed the line two days later. And on Aug. 28, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt invoked the Newark slayings when he announced that people arrested by state law enforcement would undergo immigration status checks.
Despite the partisan rhetoric, however, no actual data exist on the relationship between crime and illegal immigration. One of the few research studies done on the correlation between overall immigration and crime finds that immigration does not increase crime rates. In fact, according to the 2005 Georgia State University study, “some aspects of immigration actually lessen crime in metropolitan areas.” —Chris Anderson