“conventional wisdom” v. facts

February 29, 2008

Daily reading of the articles in Bender’s Immigration Bulletin is admittedly too depressing of an endeavor for me. I have an emotional and mental limit for reading what I consider ever-more-depressing news about the actions our nation is taking against immigrants. I don’t need to be reminded every day that deportations are tearing families apart, that we are building a great wall — which I am confident will become a great embarrassment before the end of my life — on our southern border, or that nativism and anti-immigrant sentiment is becoming mainstream as it does every few decades.

This week the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California released a study titled “Crime, Corrections and California: What does immigration have to do with it?” And guess what? Not a whole lot. Among other surprising (to some people) findings, people born outside of the United States (legal or undocumented immigrants included) make up a whopping 35 percent of California’s total population but just 17 percent of its prison population. Non-citizens men ages 18-40 born in Mexico, who are very likely to be undocumented according to the study, are more than 8 times less likely to be in a correctional setting than native-born U.S. citizen men of the same age group. The report also found lower rates of crime in California cities with higher number of recent immigrants. Overall the report shows that immigrants are far less likely to commit serious crimes in California and goes against all conventional wisdom that more immigrants mean more crime.

Despite the non-partisan nature and high ethical standards of the research, news articles covering the report’s findings, such as this one in the San Jose Mercury News, inspired dozens of nasty, bigoted comments such as this anonymous gem:

“Predictable left-wing lies. All one needs do is look at the list of prisoners’ names to see the South-of-the-Border heritage of incarcerated men in California. Further destroying the credibility of this report is the fact that so many illegals who commit additional crimes return to Mexico to hide out from authorities, and the left-wing idealogues that compiled this list of lies don’t refer to the skyrocketing number of Mexican rapists and murderers that Mexico declines to extradite.”

Oh.my.god. I love when people argue against facts with myths, racist sentiment and political opinions. It’s awesome!

This is why I can’t stomach reading so many articles. On many newspapers’ websites, there are comments, and you can’t just ignore the comments, but when you read them, you are always sickened and sorry to have read them. Where do these people come from? I’ve been trying though, to read more again and write my own comments back. But it’s hard to argue with people who disregard intellect in favor of hatred and prejudice.