February 24, 2009

Were Bill O'Reilly any kind of actual journalist who held himself to some standard of accountability, he'd be abjectly apologizing to former Rep. Gary Condit right now, and properly demonstrating some circumspection in drawing broad political conclusions from a single tragic but otherwise fairly simple criminal case.

But no. He is Bill O'Reilly, after all.

Remember that O'Reilly was one of the leaders in the torch-bearing Get Condit mob: He wrote columns all but accusing Condit of culpability in Levy's murder. On his Fox News show, he featured obsessively regular updates on the Levy case, including segments suggesting Condit was about to be arrested by the FBI.

Now that Condit has been officially exonerated, though, no apology or even acknowledgment of wrongdoing is forthcoming, of course. Not from many others who behaved similarly, and certainly not from Bill O'Reilly.

Instead, O'Reilly is using the Levy case, as he did on his Fox show last night, to play one of his favorite rhetorical games: linking immigration to crime by pointing out that it was in fact an illegal immigrant who's been charged in Levy's death.

You may remember that a few weeks ago The New York Times editorial page implied that I am a racist for reporting the truth about illegal alien crimes. This is another example of blatant press dishonesty in America. The media's cover-up of alien crime is massive.

A new study coming to light through the federal 287-G program says that in the Phoenix area, 22 percent of all felonies are committed by illegal aliens. In the Chicago area, 19 percent of all prison inmates are illegal. In Collier County, Florida, more than 20 percent of all arrests are for crimes allegedly committed by illegals, and on and on.

In fact, according to federal data, about a half million serious crimes have been committed by illegal aliens over the past 10 years.

Both political parties are at fault, as is the pro-amnesty media. Republicans wanted business to have cheap labor. Democrats sought the votes that come with migrant residency. And the far-left press believes the USA is oppressive and cruel if it does not grant citizenship to poor migrants.

Add all that up and you have a perfect storm of immigration chaos. And thousands of Americans have been badly hurt by it, not to mention thousands of illegal aliens themselves, who have been brutalized and exploited.

Well, we certainly remember O'Reilly's big squall when the NYT called him out. And yet here he is, indulging in precisely the same grotesque, eliminationist scapegoating of illegal immigrants they called him out for. He obviously doesn't get what the problem is.

The problem is this:

There is no evidence to indicate that undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than American citizens; indeed, the evidence strongly suggests that immigrants in general are less likely to commit crimes. For instance, a 2005 study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Michigan revealed both that immigrants committed fewer crimes than native-born citizens, and that a greater proportion of immigrants in a neighborhood was associated with lower rates of crime. Another study analyzing census data found that among men aged 18-39 (who make up the bulk of those committing crimes), the incarceration rate was five times higher for the native-born than for the foreign-born. This held true within ethnic and national-origin groups, meaning, for instance, that native-born Latinos were more likely to be incarcerated than foreign-born Latinos. A recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California found that in that state, which contains more immigrants than any other, the foreign-born are incarcerated at a rate half as high as their presence in the population, and only one-tenth as high among men age 18-40, who make up the bulk of prisoners. Robert J. Sampson, chairman of the sociology department at Harvard University, said that data show that undocumented immigrants are in fact "disproportionately less likely to be involved in many acts of deviance, crime, drunk driving, any number of things that sort of imperil our well-being."

There have, of course, been individual crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, some of which are quite serious. But in order to justify a particular focus in news programs and the claims of a "crime wave" -- not just a few reports, but the enormous number of stories and discussions we document below -- crimes committed by undocumented immigrants would have to be disproportionate to their numbers. Immigration opponents might argue that any crime committed by an immigrant increases the total amount of crime in the country, but the risk of crime is increased only if the immigrants commit more crimes per person than the native-born, since immigration also increases the population and therefore diffuses the crime risk to any particular person.

Oh, and that 287-G problem that O'Reilly mentions briefly in this screed? The study he references actually draws quite a different conclusion than what O'Reilly wants us to conclude from the factoid strands he's drawn from it:

A federal law granting local police and sheriffs the power to act as immigration officials when faced with dangerous criminals or terrorists has instead created a climate of racial profiling and community insecurity, according to researchers at the UNC School of Law Immigration and Human Rights Clinic.

According to the report, one of the unexpected and problematic outcomes of the law is reluctance among immigrants to contact police if they are victims or witnesses of crimes because of the risk of being jailed or deported themselves. Additionally, there are growing concerns that law enforcement officers are targeting Hispanic-appearing individuals for minor traffic offenses.

... "Students studied the contracts between local law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that grant immigration authority to local law enforcement and found that the agencies we most closely reviewed have failed to comply with these contracts. We found serious erosion of community trust, as well as legal concerns," says Weissman, who adds that the program may be costly for local law enforcement. "There are a number of law enforcement associations who think the program distracts from their core mission."

... Because immigration law is complicated and constantly changing, Weissman notes that many local law enforcement officials may not have the most current information about an individual's true immigration status. What happens to individuals once they are arrested under this program is the subject of another project for Weissman and her team.

"The stories we hear are heartbreaking. The implementation of this program does not seem to comport with our time-honored values of due process of law" says Weissman, who believes concerned citizens should become involved with the decisions their local government makes about participating in these and similar programs. "People have to ask themselves what kind of community they want to live in."

O'Reilly's dishonesty is really becoming a monument to behold.

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