Photo: Rep. Steve King
An anti-immigration congressman, who has compared undocumented immigrants to drug mules with “cantaloupes calves,” dogs, and cattle, used the occasion of a vigil to invoke September 11th and to cite flawed statistics about the number of murders committed by immigrants.
At the “Vigil for Justice” event organized by the anti-immigration organization Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) on Friday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said that undocumented immigrants have been arrested for homicide more than 25,000 times between 2004 to 2008. The rally was set to coincide with the trial of a 19-year-old undocumented male who raped and killed a 93-year-old Nebraskan woman, Louise Sollowin. King said:
One day, there was an INS agent testifying. His name is Michael Cutler from New York and I said, ‘How many Americans have died at the hands of those who did get it into the United States illegally?’
When I got to Mike Cutler, he said, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I can tell you that it will be in multiples of the victims of September 11th.”
Now that hits home, doesn’t it. When you think about multiples of the victims of September 11. Three thousand times something. Three thousand times x is the magnitude of the individual tragedies here in this country[...]
[...] In a study that looked at criminal aliens incarcerated for homicide between 2004 and 2008, a four year snapshot, here’s the number. Criminal aliens incarcerated first arrested for homicide in the United States: 25,064. Now does that number hit home? We all know that that’s a multiple of the victims of September 11th. Divide 3,008 into 25,064. Do you get a multiple of eight plus? Eight times. And that’s a four year window.
King’s math is incredibly off. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report he cited, the number of homicides by undocumented immigrants arrested for homicides occurred over a 51-year period (between August 1955 to April 2010), not a four-year period. In fact, King previously stated during a 2011 “National Day of Remember of Victims of Illegal Aliens” House floor speech, “according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), there have been 25,064 homicide arrests of criminal aliens since 1955.”
Sollowin’s murder is a tragedy, but most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States are not a violent threat. Even Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the immigration- restrictionist organization Center for Immigration Studies previously said, “we found no strong evidence one way or the other for the notion that immigrants commit either more or less crime than the American population.”
This is not the first time that anti-immigration officials have invoked the September 11th terrorist attacks to allude to undocumented immigrants as harmful to society. Because two of the nineteen hijackers overstayed their visas, anti-immigrant groups have capitalized on the opportunity to generalize undocumented immigrants as criminals. About 100 undocumented World Trade Center workers were also killed in the attacks.
During the most recent commemoration of the terrorist attacks, the anti-immigrant group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) sent out email asking its recipient to “honor the fallen” by “secur[ing] our nation from those who plan to pass Amnesty for illegal aliens this October.”
The ALIPAC email ends with the statement, “The illegals are trying to hijack the cockpit of America’s government! Let’s roll!”
News for the event itself indicates that people are “demand[ing] an end to lax federal enforcement of immigration laws.” The Senate immigration bill would actually tighten border enforcement and focus resources on targeting those undocumented immigrants likely to commit crimes, Those who have committed certain crimes would be prohibited from applying for legal status. The bill would also provide for the ability to better track border entries and visa overstays.