Proponents of tougher immigration enforcement often use crime as their big scare factor in trying to influence people to their point. Only tougher laws and Joe Arpaio, they caution, stand athwart the coming immigrant rape of Phoenix.
But when the case is built on one or two high-profile crime where the perpetrator has not even been identified, rather than statistics, we can be suspicious of how strong the case is. I have cited historical figures here, but the WSJ has the new figures for 2009:
Violent crime fell significantly last year in cities across the U.S., according to preliminary federal statistics, challenging the widely held belief that recessions drive up crime rates.
The incidence of violent crimes such as murder, rape and aggravated assault was down 5.5% from 2008, and 6.9% in big cities. It fell 2.4% in long-troubled Detroit and plunged 16.6% in Phoenix, despite a perception of rising crime that has fueled an immigration backlash....
In Phoenix, police spokesman Trent Crump said, "Despite all the hype, in every single reportable crime category, we're significantly down." Mr. Crump said Phoenix's most recent data for 2010 indicated still lower crime. For the first quarter of 2010, violent crime was down 17% overall in the city, while homicides were down 38% and robberies 27%, compared with the same period in 2009.
Arizona's major cities all registered declines. A perceived rise in crime is one reason often cited by proponents of a new law intended to crack down on illegal immigration. The number of kidnappings reported in Phoenix, which hit 368 in 2008, was also down, though police officials didn't have exact figures.
And just to head off the obvious straw man, 2008 was not somehow a peak year, it was actually well below historical levels.