When your first acts in America are to illegally sneak in, lie about your status, obtain fraudulent identification, deceive public services and solicit an itinerant job in the underground economy, people have a right to ask what sort of neighbor you might become.
The illegal alien’s life of deceit and struggle would seem to appeal only to those very desperate to leave their homelands. And the failed societies which inspire such desperation in their poor tend to be much more violent than the United States. “How much of this violence is imported into the United States with these desperate migrants?” is thus an obvious question to be asked in the debate over the costs and benefits of tolerating millions of such immigration criminals.
It may be an obvious question, but there is little attempt to answer it by government. Given that the first responsibility of government is to protect the lives of its citizens, this is surprising. Or it would be, if my last shred of idealism had not long ago been euthanized by my sense of reality on the subject of our willfully neglected borders.
If records on the homicide associated with illegal immigration exist, the obscurity in which they are shrouded is inviolate. After failing to find such information on the websites of numerous federal agencies, I spoke with a press representative of the FBI. Although very polite, he was very sure that murders by illegal aliens was not the sort of thing the FBI would keep track of, and so he gave me the phone number of a representative of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Division of the Department of Homeland Security. This got me off the phone with the FBI.
The lady at ICE was also a very polite, and suggested that I call the FBI. After I explained that I just had, she then suggested that I check the Statistical Yearbook on the internet. And after I explained that I had pretty much read the whole thing already, she gave me the number of somebody at the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). This got me off the phone with the ICE.
The BJS spokesman was not very polite at all, but was knowledgeable. He explained that no one kept track of illegal alien murders and that the closest thing to such a record would be the applications to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program of the Federal Government (SCAAP). This program is designed to stop border states from organizing against illegal immigration by reimbursing them millions of dollars in costs associated with imprisoning any illegal aliens convicted of either one felony or two misdemeanors. Since the records of the program simply trigger the transfer of huge sums of Federal tax money, they are not very informative or accessible. He suggested that I contact all 50 state governors.
I am dumb, thus I did. In doing so, I clearly identified myself as a very important press-associated person, confident that this would trigger quick and thorough responses. In the next three months, I received almost one dozen responses to my 50 queries. Two contained useful information. Vermont, wonderfully isolated as always, told me about the illegal aliens in its prison system—all 49 of them. The answer from Florida was excellent and very thorough, but the data simply do not exist.
No one knows the cost in lives of illegal immigration. This seems unacceptable to me. After some thought, I have arrived at my own approximation of the number. The estimate is crude, but is based on real numbers and as few assumptions as I could manage. If you disagree with it, just send me a better estimate.
While the murder rate among illegal aliens in America is unknown, we do have fair estimates of how many illegal migrants are here, and what countries they came from. The murder rates in most of these countries are known and published by the United Nations (which means the figures must be correct). If one then simply assumes that each nationality of alien commits murder at the same rate in America as it would in its homeland, it is then possible to arrive at an estimate of the probable rate of murder by illegal aliens in America.
Put more plainly, I assumed that 3,871,912 Mexicans in America kill at the same rate as 3,871,912 Mexicans in Mexico, then did the same for 336,717 Salvadorans, 77,000 Brazilians, 226,886 Chinese and 39 other categories of illegal alien—as totaled in a Census Bureau estimate of the illegal alien population in 2000. The report’s total figure was that 8.7 million illegal aliens are in our country. It should be noted that this estimate would be considered low by many sources. But I tried to be as conservative as possible with all figures. My estimate is therefore low, I believe.
(If you don’t like numbers, skip the next two paragraphs further explaining the estimate.)
Using the above method, I estimated that illegal aliens kill 1,480 people in America every year. This assumes that the 8.7 million illegal aliens in America have a population age structure and a sex ratio similar to that of their homelands. Most murders are committed by young males. If the illegal population in America is skewed toward young males, as most believe, the murder total is actually much higher. Comparing the age structure of the population of illegal aliens that applied for amnesty during the Reagan administration (according a GAO report) to the current age structure of the population of Mexico (according to the US Census Bureau), I found that people aged 22 to 45 years old were overrepresented in the amnesty pool. Adjusting the murder rate using FBI homicide perpetrator age-cohort information for the United States (see why you need to pay attention in math class, kids?), the total is more likely to be 1,806 murders per year.
Sex ratio is harder to estimate. I have seen data indicating a 1:1 ratio of males to females in the illegal alien population, and I have seen claims that it is 90% male, as well as many figures in between. A catalog of deaths of illegal immigrants in the deserts of the Southwest (most either from exposure, automobile collisions or, interestingly, from homicide) on a “human rights” website had a ratio among the dead of 3:1 male to female. I was unable to resolve the sex ratio issue to my satisfaction. Our enforcement system is so inadequate that I could see it being no obstacle to even a pregnant woman in fashionable shoes, favoring the 1:1 ratio. But my intuition is that illegal adventures in foreign lands appeal disproportionately to testosterone-clouded minds, favoring a male bias to the ratio. Thus, I made three calculations, based on the population being 50% male (1,806 murders), 60% male (2,076 murders), or 75% male (2,510 murders). If we adjusted for the social class of the migrants, the total would climb higher. But I could find no data making this adjustment possible. Also, the sort of people who are willing to break our laws to enter are probably of a more criminal nature than those who wait for permission, meaning that the illegal alien population could be more violent than the population of their homelands as a whole. But again, there was no way to correct for this possible skewing of the population, so the estimates were left arguably too low.
So the upshot, for the journalism majors that just rejoined the article, is that a simplistic good-faith estimate is that illegal aliens kill between 1,806 and 2,510 people in the United States each year. We have just passed the much-vaunted 2,000 deaths mark in the invasion of Iraq, a necessary endeavor. In that same 32 months, there have possibly been between 4,800 and 6,700 deaths in the invasion of the United States by illegal aliens, a corrupt endeavor tolerated in a frivolous pursuit of cheap labor.
Given that 16,528 murders were committed in the entire United States in 2004, this estimate—if correct—would mean that illegal aliens (3% of the population in the Census Bureau Estimate used in this analysis) commit between 11% and 15% of all the murders in the United States each year. The murder rate for the illegal alien population in this model, 20 to 29 homicides per year per 100,000 persons, would thus be 400% to 500% the rate of the combined native-born and legal immigrant populations.
Even if American policing, a desire by illegal aliens to remain obscure, or other factors reduced the murder rate in the illegal alien population to just half the rate in their native countries, we are still paying a very high price in lives for our abject failure to enforce our own immigration laws.
Thousands may be dying—but at least our lawns look nice.