Newsweek and the Criminal Immigrants Next Door

Newsweek has another installment in the don’t-blame-Arizonans coverage of the state’s new immigration law (FAIR Blog, 4/28/10, 5/3/10, 5/4/10). Under the charming headline “Mexican Standoff,” reporter Eve Conant writes:

Some accuse lawmakers and the 70 percent of Arizonans who support the bill of acting like Nazis, or of turning Arizona into an apartheid state. But spend some time in Arizona, and you may come to see why so many Arizonans want this.

The bulk of what follows is Conant’s account of a month worth of ride-alongs with Arizona law enforcement officials, who showed her a number of ostensibly immigrant-related crimes. “It’s terrifying to live next door to homes filled with human traffickers, drug smugglers, AK-47s, pit bulls, and desperate laborers stuffed 30 to a room, shoes removed to hinder escape,” Conant writes.

No doubt it is, but how many Arizonans actually do live next door to such places? As we’ve pointed out before, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the state’s crime rate; it had 483 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people in 2007, according to the Statistical Abstract, just slightly more than the national average of 467–and well below the rate of such well-known crime hubs as Delaware and Maryland, where the police are not yet mandated to demand the papers of brown-skinned citizens. And there’s no reason to think that immigrants are responsible for more violent crime than their native-born counterparts; research suggests the opposite.

If a state passed a law that had the effect of discriminating against African-Americans, and a newsweekly argued that the law was understandable by recounting anecdotes of blacks in that state who were involved in crimes, one would have to say that the magazine was being remarkably racist. I don’t see why you’d say anything different about Newsweek‘s article.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.