CRIME+RACE+IMMIGRATION STATUS=URBAN LEGEND

September 7, 2007

race-migration-status.jpg

(caption: “First Sgt. Kim Chinn of the Prince William County police hangs photos of men suspected in recent violent crimes”)

The Newark, New Jersey murder case has invigorated and significantly expanded (there is no “debate” when folks like CNN’s Lou Dobbs, Democrats like NJ Governor John Corzine and Republican Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo all agree) the reach and appeal of the “immigrant = criminal” equation. Just look at this article and picture (above) in today’s Washington Post. Rather than include information in the story giving a context to the unquestioned claims of the cops and anti-immigrant politicos that dominate the story, the writer, Theresa Vargas, opts to give even more space to the anecdotal evidence fueling the viral growth of the urban legend of immigrant criminality:

“Ebert said that although he does not know what percentage of serious crimes are committed by illegal immigrants, he knows of at least three pending murder cases and two rapes alleged to have been committed by illegal immigrants.”

Had she done her homework, Vargas might have asked about the race and national extraction of other alleged criminals; she might have done some basic research to find some of the countless studies over the past 100 years showing, for example, that immigrants – documented and undocumented – are five times less-likely to go to jail than the native born; she might have mentioned that, while immigration to the US has increased intensely in the recent decades, crime rates have dropped during the same period. Such information might help readers better understand where such statements from cops and anti-immigrant politicos are coming from.

Instead, Vargas and, more importantly, the Washington Post chose to let the chorus of bogus sources continue unquestioned, unanswered.

Despite important, necessary struggles to dispel such notions among African Americans and others, we still live in a country where race and class –and now migration status and national extraction- are considered in the public discusion of the crimes of some -and not others. Please consider this and share your conclusions as you look below at the list of the major mass murders of the past 20 years and answer the question, “Is there a link between race, national extraction and migration status here? If so, what?” R

1. Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma, USA 1995)

2. Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden (Jonesboro massacre, Jonesboro, Arkansas, 1998)

3. Matthew Beck (Newington, Connecticut, 1998) (killed five at Connecticut Lottery Headquarters, Newington, Connecticut, 1998)

4. Larry Gene Ashbrook (Wedgwood Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 1999)

5. Susan Eubanks (Vista, California, 1999)

6. Buford O. Furrow, Jr. (Los Angeles, California, 1999)

7. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine High School Massacre, Littleton, Colorado), 1999)

8. Byran Uyesugi (Xerox Murders, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1999)

9. Michael McDermott (Wakefield Massacre, Edgewater Technologies, Wakefield, Massachusetts, 2000)

10. Jeff Weise (Red Lake High School massacre, Red Lake, Minnesota, 2005)

11. Terry Ratzmann (Brookfield, Wisconsin, killed 7, March 12, 2005)

12. Kyle Huff (Capitol Hill massacre, Seattle, Washington, March 25, 2006)

13. Charles Carl Roberts IV (Amish School Shooting, Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, October 2, 2006)

14. Cho Seung-hui (Virginia Tech Massacre, Blacksburg, Virginia, April 16, 2007)

15. Chris Benoit, Atlanta, Georgia,killed 3, June 24, 2007)

2 Responses to “CRIME+RACE+IMMIGRATION STATUS=URBAN LEGEND”


  1. Roberto, the point has always been ignored – that we here in America can grow our own idiots very well. The current frenzy over the immigration issue, fueled by the homicides in New Jersey, only serves to ignite the passion of those trying to escape their own problems by seeking scapegoats. As history has taught us, although like sonsos we continue to ignore it, people seeking scapegoats will go to great lengths to make sure that they can blame someone else for their own bad decisions, including their election of bad leaders. The fact remains that crime in the world, not just America, is a symptom of other coditions in life. If your child is sick or starving, you can’t get a job, lack education, lack proper housing, lack health medical coverage, or any other condition that creates desperation, you will more than likely end up with an act of desperication and may even be criminal. The great injustice is the biggest separation of class that is occurring in this country and with it a battle for scraps by those who can least voice their need. We are giving somone aspirin for a headache that is being caused by brain cancer. We wonder why the person’s headache is not going away. Like fighting a war that has already cost us billions, will cost us billions more, in a region of the world we honestly fail to understand, that is getting us nowhere; in the name of democracy. What’s wrong with this picture.


  2. […] As a result of these faulty assumptions, too much immigrant rights activism remains in the defensive posture symbolized by the “Stop the Raids” slogan coloring placards and press releases. While it’s critical to continually and forcefully denounce, such a focus leaves untouched the primary offensive actor in the raids story: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). While immigrants are roundly and widely attacked by growing legions of institutional and grassroots interests for causing all manner of societal ills, ICE gets to play the role of “good guy” (see “Most Wanted” multimedia stories on ICE Website or cowboy hat-wearing raiders in this post). As much as anyone, the government itself is radically invested in the theatrics and urban legend of immigrant criminality. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: