Immigration Reform: How to Lie With Numbers

Some activist group called America’s Voice have produced a bunch of exciting-looking infographics suggesting that the “immigrant-targeting” approach to law enforcement Joe Arpaio – sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County – have resulted in a fifty-eight percent increase in crime in the county between 2002 and 2009. They would like you to believe that SB 1070 would lead to a “surge in violent crime” statewide – or perhaps even nationwide, if other states follow suit.


First of all, this is patently disingenuous, in that – despite the promises and claims of politicians – law-enforcement policies have relatively little (if any) measurable effect on the number of crimes committed. There is no magic method of keeping people from beating, robbing, or killing one another, and to imply otherwise is a wee bit dishonest.

Second, as far as I can tell, Arpaio and Maricopa County have only aggressively enforced immigration laws since 2005, making the 2002-2009 figure irrelevant.

Third, the numbers quoted by “America’s Voice” don’t appear to be correct. Per the official state data they link to, Maricopa County had 224,905 “index crimes” in 2002, and 164,094 in 2009. That’s NOT a 58% increase in crime, obviously. (On other pages, they claim the increase is in “violent crime”… but that’s not true, either.)

The ONLY index crime that was higher in 2009 compared to 2002 was arson, which went from 924 to 1084 – a seventeen-percent increase.

For the past three years – 2007-2009 – almost all categories of “index crimes” have decreased year-to-year in Maricopa County:

Murder: 324-270-215 (2007-2008-2009)
Robbery: 7228-7364-5833
Assault: 10627-10100-9181
Burglary: 37154-37333-33759
Theft: 108226-109187-95852
Vehicle Theft: 33599-25616-17059
Arson: 933-10821084

(italics denote a rise against the previous year)

Crime, overall, is down in Maricopa County, not up by fifty-eight percent.

It has nothing to do with immigration, or Arpaio’s policies, most likely.

Telling lies about documented numbers is just stupid, especially when you link readers to the raw data. And using that to try and generate fear to push a political agenda that has nothing to do with the numbers, anyway? Retarded. Absolutely retarded. Look, I dislike Arpaio as much as the next guy, and I think most of his policies are stupid and ill-conceived. There are a multitude of factually-based criticisms of the jerk; there’s no need to invent patently fearmongering ones out of whole cloth!

Anonymously-registered domain name, hosted on the same server as an outdated immigration-reform site and an anti-Arpaio website. You’d think “the Howard Dean web team” would be a little more clueful, huh?

I don’t know about you, but I kind of expect better of Left-leaning organizations. What ever happened to the whole “reality based” thing?

“America’s Voice” = mendacious idiots.

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on July 16th, 2010| Comments Off on Immigration Reform: How to Lie With Numbers

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