Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly has repeatedly singled out one reason to support Arizona's draconian new immigration law: the state's exploding crime rate. But there is no documented crime wave in Arizona, and O'Reilly's attempt to link immigrants to crime is equally unfounded.
O'Reilly's record of overheated rhetoric is clear:
"Arizona had to do something. In the capital city, Phoenix, crime's out of control. For example, last year, New York City, with six times as many residents as Phoenix, had just 16,000 more reported crimes."
"The Arizona authorities say we're desperate. We don't have the money. Our crime problem is through the roof. Phoenix one of the most dangerous cities in the country. We got to do something."
"So the state of Arizona faced with an overwhelming crime problem, social chaos and a bankrupt treasury had to do something."
"Arizona's bankrupt. The crime's through the roof. Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the United States now."
"Arizona's already won the war of public opinion.... Americans understand, look, here's a state where the federal government will not do its job. The state has 500,000 illegal aliens. It's bankrupt. Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the United States. Crime is through the roof. Drugs are coming across the border all the time. So what do you expect Arizona to do?"
In reality, there is no rising crime rate in Arizona (AP, 5/10/10; CNN, 4/29/10). The same is true of Phoenix—despite the oft-repeated (and thinly sourced) description of the city as a kidnapping haven. The city of Phoenix reported that crime in 2009 was at its lowest rate in 15 years, and violent crime had dropped 18 percent from 2008. Mayor Phil Gordon told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (4/20/09) that "crime is actually down, in every category."
What's more, there is no evidence linking immigrants (documented or undocumented) to increases in crime, in Arizona or anywhere else. In fact, much of the research indicates the opposite—that immigrants commit crime at a lower rate than the population at large (Immigration Policy Center, 4/28/10).
As for the state being "bankrupt," Arizona does face budget shortfalls—along with some 46 other states (CBPP, 2/25/10).
Thanks to people like Bill O'Reilly, laws like Arizona's SB 1070 are discussed in a media environment of fear-mongering and bigotry.
Stand up and demand that O'Reilly show his evidence—or retract his slurs.