The Myth of Hispanic Crime Rates

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Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Tom Tancredo, and Michelle Malkin suggest there's a link between immigration and crime. They are wrong, says Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative. "Popular concerns about immigrant crime and popular concerns about Hispanic crime amount to the same thing," he declares in a data-heavy 5,000-word blockbuster, though "fears of perceived racial insensitivity may force many critics to choose their words carefully."

Unz debunks the high Hispanic crime rate myth. Though the piece requires a full reading, here's the framework: while incarceration rates suggest that Hispanics are disproportionately criminally inclined, it turns out Hispanics in the U.S. are also disproportionately male, with a median age around 27. Men between the ages of 18 and 29 are the most common criminals regardless of ethnicity. When you correct the statistics for these imbalances, the difference between Latino and white crime rates starts to look a lot smaller.

Unz goes through numerous steps like this to get to the bottom of this problem, looking at crime rates by type of offense, by state and city, and crime rates according to the overall percentage of a city's population that is Hispanic. The conclusion?

The evidence presented here powerfully refutes the widespread popular belief that America’s Hispanics have high crime rates. Instead, their criminality seems to fall near the center of the white national distribution, being somewhat higher than white New Englanders but somewhat lower than white Southerners ... Restrictionists [on immigration] can provide numerous completely legitimate arguments in favor of their position, ranging from economic competition and cultural conflict to national overpopulation and environmental degradation. But they will discredit these by including unsubstantiated claims about crime.

(Hat tip: Felix Salmon)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.