In a debate on Tuesday, the Republican Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, decided to embrace Trumpism by blaming violence on illegal immigrants:
“One of the reasons we have such high unemployment in the city of Chicago and so much crime is the massive number of illegal immigrants here take jobs away from American citizens and Chicago citizens,” he contended.
The problem with Rauner’s contention is that isn’t remotely true. Data actually suggests the opposite is true. Illegal immigrants commit less crime than native-born citizens.
But the social-science research on immigration and crime is clear: Undocumented immigrants are considerably less likely to commit crime than native-born citizens, with immigrants legally in the United States even less likely to do so. A number of studies published in the past several months clearly illustrate the consensus.
The first study, published by the libertarian Cato Institute in February, examines criminal conviction data for 2015 provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety. It found that native-born residents were much more likely to be convicted of a crime than immigrants in the country legally or illegally.
“As a percentage of their respective populations, there were 56 percent fewer criminal convictions of illegal immigrants than of native-born Americans in Texas in 2015,” author Alex Nowrasteh writes. “The criminal conviction rate for legal immigrants was about 85 percent below the native-born rate.”
Michael Light, a criminologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, looked at whether the soaring increase in illegal immigration over the last three decades caused a commensurate jump in violent crimes: murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
“Increased undocumented immigration since 1990 has not increased violent crime over that same time period,” Light said in a phone interview.
Those findings are published in the current edition of the peer-reviewed journal Criminology.
In a separate study, these same researchers previously looked at nonviolent crime. They found that the dramatic influx of undocumented immigrants, similarly, did not drive up rates of drug and alcohol arrests or the number of drug overdoses and DUI deaths.
What actually has been shown to contribute to an increase in crime are policies that the Republican Governor of Illinois supports: income inequality, the drug war, and lax gun regulation.
Bruce Rauner supports income inequality through a number of policies:
The fact is, the biggest problem with Illinois’ budget is that the rich aren’t paying their fair share to the State. This has left the State’s budget broken, so it hasn’t been able to fully fund things like schools. Which has led to local municipalities having to pick up the slack by raising property taxes and sales taxes, which has increased taxes on the middle class, while barely affecting the rich.
Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill Friday that would have raised Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, arguing it would hurt businesses and ultimately reduce jobs.
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation seeking to prohibit municipal right-to-work laws — like the one enacted in Lincolnshire nearly two years ago — narrowly withstood an override attempt in the state House on Wednesday.
Right-to-work ordinances allow employees to refuse union membership and still keep their jobs. Rauner, a Republican, has pushed for such proposals, which critics have derided as anti-union.
Bruce Rauner, the multi-millionaire Republican Governor of Illinois, has vetoed a bill that would require all teacher salaries to reach $40,000 a year by the year 2022.
Income inequality has been shown to be a huge influence on increasing crime.
In a 2002 study by World Bank economists Pablo Fajnzylber, Daniel Lederman, and Norman Loayza, it was found out that crime rates and inequality are positively correlated within countries and also between countries. The correlation is a causation – inequality induces crime rates.
This finding is parallel with the theory on crime by American economist Gary Becker, who pronounces that an increase in income inequality has a big and robust effect of increasing crime rates. Not only that, but a country’s economic growth (GDP rate) has signiﬁcant impact in lessening incidence of crimes. Since reduction in income inequality gap and a richer economy has an alleviating effect on poverty level, it implies that poverty alleviation has a crime-reducing effect.
The analysis may have been made clearer and simplified. The problem now lies on the two factors being able to produce the desired effects that are poverty alleviation and lesser crime rate. Reality presents the people with shaky economic growth and worsening income inequality.
The U.S., which ranks 3rd among the most income-unequal nations, and the worst in terms of income gap growth, also has the largest percentage of its population in prison among industrialized democratic nations.
The connection is so strong that, according to the World Bank, a simple measure of inequality predicts about half of the variance in murder rates between American states and between countries around the world. When inequality is high and strips large numbers of men of the usual markers of status – like a good job and the ability to support a family – matters of respect and disrespect loom disproportionately.
Inequality predicts homicide rates “better than any other variable”, says Martin Daly, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at McMaster University in Ontario and author of Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide.
This includes factors like rates of gun ownership (which also rise when inequality does) and cultural traits like placing more emphasis on “honor” (this, too, turns out to be linked with inequality). “About 60 [academic] papers show that a very common result of greater inequality is more violence, usually measured by homicide rates,” says Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level and co-founder of the Equality Trust.
A 2016 London School of Economics study, for instance, found that greater income gaps between neighboring U.S. neighborhoods led to more property crime in the richer neighborhoods. “Income differences create an incentive for those relatively poor to steal from richer households,” the authors explain.
Perhaps surprisingly, the links between inequality and violent crime are even clearer. A 2002 World Bank paper found strong correlations between inequality and rates of violent crime, both within countries and between them. The authors say the relationship appears to be causal, even after controlling for a number of other known determinants of crime. The implication is that high levels of inequality create a permanent underclass forced to compete, sometimes violently, either with itself or with other classes for scarce resources.
This phenomenon is particularly clear in present-day Mexico, according to a 2014 World Bank paper. Because of the proliferation of gangs during the country’s drug war, the costs of crime decreased as criminal knowledge and skills diffused throughout the broader population. The high level of inequality in Mexico (Gini coefficient: 48.2), meanwhile, meant that the expected benefits of crime increased. What you get is a perfect storm of incentives for violent crime.
Bruce Rauner supports the war on drugs.
That brings us back to Governor Rauner, who vows to veto a legalization bill. And since there aren’t enough Democrats to override his veto, house speaker Michael Madigan probably won’t let it be called for a vote.
Why is Rauner so opposed to legalization? There’s his stated reason—it would lead to more teenage use. We’ve already dealt with that.
And there’s his probable unstated reason—he wants to look tough for his Republican base, which is still mad at him for signing the reproductive rights bill HB 40 last fall. Guess the base is still fighting the culture wars of the 60s.
The war on drugs has only led to more crime:
Black markets naturally attract criminals, in part because it’s difficult for convicted felons to find a career aboveboard. The black market for drugs offers lucrative opportunities that are especially attractive to those who have already committed violent crimes and are thus unlikely to find legal work.
Black markets also attract violent individuals because the crimes associated with selling drugs are proportionately less costly for those who already have a rap sheet. Legitimate businessmen are unlikely to sell drugs, because if they are caught they could face decades in prison. But for hardened criminals, the primary danger is in being caught, not in one more charge being added to an existing long list.
Additionally, black markets incentivize criminals to protect their secrecy. For many drug sellers, the most effective way to do so is to silence potential leaks. This was the context for Ulbricht’s first alleged hit: He feared that if his victim (an employee of The Silk Road) weren’t silenced, the employee might report Ulbricht’s crimes to the FBI. The difference between serving 10 years for drug trafficking and serving life for murder was a relatively small one compared to the difference between going to prison or remaining free.
The further-reaching reason to legalize marijuana and decriminalize other drugs flows from how the war on drugs drives violent crime, which in turn pushes up incarceration and generates other negative social outcomes. You just can’t move $100 billion worth of illegal product without a lot of assault and homicide. This should not be a hard point to see or make. Criminologists and law enforcement personnel alike acknowledge that the most common examples of “criminogenic trends” that generate increases in murder and other violent crimes are gang- and drug-related homicides.
But there is also another, more subtle connection between the drug war and violence, pinpointed by economists Brendan O’Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi . As they argue, above-average homicide rates will result from low rates of successful investigation and prosecution of homicide cases. If you live in an environment where you know that someone can shoot you with impunity, you are much more likely to be ready to shoot to kill at the first sign of danger. When murder goes unpunished, it begets more murder, partly for purposes of retaliation, partly because people are emboldened by lawlessness, but also as a matter of preemption. Unpunished murder makes everyone (including police) trigger-happy. Such places operate according to the dictum that the best defense is a strong offense.
Major urban centers of the drug trade are just such environments, plagued by low clearance rates for homicide. In Detroit, in the years approaching the city’s bankruptcy, the homicide clearance rate verged on single digits. In Chicago, in 2009, police cleared only 30 percent of homicide cases, many of them without charges. In one Los Angeles Police Department bureau, clearance rates in the 60s mask the low rate of cases ending in arrest and prosecution. And clearance rates are lowest when victims are black and brown, as Jill Leovy explains in her new book, “Ghettoside.” In contrast, in the 1960s, in the United States, the average clearance rate for homicide was above 90 percent, according to NPR.
Why have homicide clearance rates fallen so low in these cities? According to criminologist Charles Wellford, drug-related homicides are harder to investigate, possibly because they are more likely to be stranger-to-stranger incidents and possibly because the drug business generates witness-suppression systems. Additionally, stop-and-frisk tactics have eroded trust in police and further diminished the willingness of witnesses to testify. And, recently, justified anger over police violence has further reduced the capacity of the police to function well in investigating homicides.
Finally, an overloaded judicial system may well put prosecutors in a position where they wish to pursue only open-and-shut cases that will generate plea deals. According to a retired police officer interviewed by NPR, Vernon Geberth , police nowadays have a higher bar to get over in trying to clear a case because prosecutors want only those easier cases.
And what is the No. 1 source of this prosecutorial overload? According to federal judicial caseload statistics, in U.S. district courts in 2013, 32 percent of defendant filings were for drug-related cases, making this the biggest category of filings. State judicial systems, too, have been significantly strained for financial resources and personnel by drug-related casework. Add to this picture the fact that plenty of violent offenders in our nation’s prisons started out as nonviolent drug offenders, and you have a complete picture of just how much the drug war itself has been a generator of violence.
Bruce Rauner supports concealed-carry laws for guns.
Rauner says the right to carry a concealed weapon was a long time coming, but he believes the law is too confusing for gun owners because of specifics about where someone can and can’t carry a gun.
“Concealed carry in Illinois was long overdue,” Rauner said. “But, frankly, I think the one that got passed is too convoluted to be really good.”
Concealed-carry laws have led to increases in violent crime:
On average, RTC [Right to Carry] states had aggregate violent crime rates around 7 percent higher than the synthetic states five years after RTC law passage. After 10 years, the gap increased to almost 15 percent.
To put the significance of a 15-percent increase in violent crime in perspective, “the average RTC state would have to double its prison population to counteract the RTC-induced increase in violent crime,” the report says.
Bruce Rauner’s statement is unfortunately typical of today’s Republican party. They use bigotry to try to distract from the destructiveness of their own policies. Facts be damned.