Yes, Georgia, there is a connection between migrants and crime


March 18, 2024

By Matt O’Brien

Athens, Ga., Mayor Kelly Girtz recently held a now-viral press conference to address the murder of Laken Riley by Venezuelan migrant Jose Antonio Ibarra.

Rather than expressing outrage at the murder of a promising young woman by a man who simply should not have been in the United States, Girtz pushed the usual anti-borders, pro-illegal alien line “cautioning” his audience “against conflating immigration and crime” because “the data demonstrates that the two are not connected.”

Of course, Girtz failed to point to any studies, statistics or expert testimony proving his point.

But is he right? Does the data actually show that a massive surge in the number of illegal aliens causes no increase in crime?

The answer is a resounding, “No!”

That’s not at all what the data shows. In fact, most studies claiming there is no connection between migration and crime were written by ideologues who drew political conclusions and then went in search of data to support them. In reality, when studies are conducted by objective researchers who actually understand both the criminal justice system and immigration law, they show unequivocally that there is a connection between failures to enforce our immigration laws and increases in crime.

A 2021 Department of Justice survey found that non-citizens constituted 64 percent of all federal arrestees in 2018 – despite the fact that non-citizens then represented only seven percent of the U.S. population. A 2019 Federation for American Immigration Reform study (authored by me and my colleague Spencer Raley) reviewed data from the federal government’s State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), concluding that illegal aliens commit crimes at a rate at least three times higher than citizens and lawfully present aliens. And a 2021 Center for Immigration Studies report looked at additional Texas DPS data and concluded that illegal aliens commit serious crimes, like homicide and sexual assault, at much higher rates than citizens and legal migrants.

For Mayor Girtz and other anti-borders, pro-sanctuary politicians like him, the narrative that Americans are oppressors, and everyone else is a victim, outweighs the oath they took to enforce our laws and protect Americans.

All of those studies tend to be supported by direct observation. In 2015, Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, a five times-deported illegal alien from Mexico shot Kate Steinle to death in San Francisco. In 2018, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an illegal alien from Mexico, abducted and murdered college student Mollie Tibbetts while she was jogging in Iowa. In 2022, autistic twenty-year-old Kayla Hamilton was raped and murdered by a sixteen-year-old Salvadoran illegal alien who was also a member of the MS-13 gang. In 2023, high school cheerleader Lizbeth Medina was allegedly stabbed to death in Texas by Rafael Govea Romero a visa overstayer from Mexico – Romero was recently indicted on capital murder charges.

Also in 2023, Ecuadorean illegal alien Juan Leonardo Parra Altamirano was arrested and charged with causing a car crash in West Bridgewater, Mass., and then fleeing the scene as Haitian legal immigrant Erpharo Gilbert burned to death in her vehicle. Then, just a few weeks ago, in Lynn, Mass., ICE arrested a previously deported Mexican-Guatemalan dual citizen who had been convicted of child rape and prostitution. Notice a pattern developing?

But even in circumstances where logic would dictate that there is a blatant connection between migrants and crime, those who peddle a pro-migration agenda don’t want to acknowledge reality – despite the fact that it is viciously smacking them in the face. In New York City, the Venezuelan Tren de Aragua gang has been masterminding an organized purse snatching and cell-phone robbery scheme that has preyed upon women throughout the five boroughs. Meanwhile individual migrants have been arrested for robbery-assaultsriotingassault on NYPD officers and shooting at cops. But, regardless of what experience should be telling them, the journalists and editors at the New York Times insist, “’Migrant Crime Wave’ Not Supported by Data, Despite High-Profile Cases.”

Based on all of the foregoing, a reasonable observer might conclude that people who are opportunistic enough to begin their relationship with the United States by breaking the law might see no reason not to keep breaking it. But, if you thought radical globalist Utopians would allow anything like rational thought to interfere with their fantasy of a borderless world, then you’d be wrong.

The fact is, for Mayor Girtz and other anti-borders, pro-sanctuary politicians like him, the narrative that Americans are oppressors, and everyone else is a victim, outweighs the oath they took to enforce our laws and protect Americans. In their world, Laken Riley is just collateral damage on the road to the perfect world they’re building. And they’d prefer that all of us benighted proles who are tired of seeing our wives, daughters, sisters and friends slaughtered at the hands of uninvited, ungrateful guests should simply be quiet, get out of the way and stop pointing out the obvious: no border means more crime.

Matt O’Brien is the Director of Investigations at the Immigration Reform Law Institute and the co-host of IRLI’s podcast “No Border, No Country.” Immediately prior to working for IRLI he served as an immigration judge. He has nearly 30 years of experience in immigration law and policy, having held numerous positions within the Department of Homeland Security.

Also published at American Thinker, March 18, 2024.

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