National Data | Linda Chavez Stops Smearing, Substitutes Statistics. It Doesn't Work

At a critical point in the recent amnesty war, Linda Chavez got so excited that she extended her usual smear that opposition to immigration is racism to virtually the entire Conservative Establishment. Not surprisingly, she subsequently felt obliged to apologize, sort of, in a long National Review Online exchange.

But Chavez still squabbled with Heather MacDonald on the data— or "factoids", as Chavez has described data she doesn't like—regarding criminality and educational achievement of Hispanic immigrants.

Crime

Chavez:  "I'm not sure what more I can say about MacDonald's assertion, 'In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens.' The police don't collect information on the immigration status of those wanted for crimes—period…If she had done her homework, she could have found statistics on Los Angeles that support her contention that Hispanics are committing more than their share of crimes (though it would not support her contention that illegal aliens are involved in most of these). For example, in May 2002, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (see below for an explanation of the database) reports that of 36 defendants charged (not convicted) with murder, 24 were Hispanics—roughly two thirds in a county whose population is about half Hispanic; but blacks were charged with a third of murders, though they represent just under 10 percent of the population." [Linda Chavez on Immigration, Conservatives & Hispanics on National Review Online]

Mac Donald: "It [the figures for illegal aliens wanted for murder] was given to me by a source in the Los Angeles Police Department's Fugitive Warrants Section and I stand by it… I'm not surprised that the press office of the LAPD won't confirm the LAPD data; the department's leadership is one of the most politically correct in the country, having for decades embraced a sanctuary policy that has resulted in a virtual cordon sanitaire between officers on the street and federal immigration authorities." An NRO Symposium on Conservatives & Hispanics on National Review Online

VDARE.COM:  Of course, the real question is why the LAPD doesn't collect data on immigration status. And Linda Chavez's attempt to correct matters with Bureau of Justice Statistics murder stats, although forcing her to acknowledge Hispanic criminality, just doesn't go far enough. The BJS figures are based on a small sample of one month's felonies. More importantly, they often fail to note Hispanic ethnicity when designating an arrestee's race.

Chavez could have turned to the comprehensive, and more up-to-date, crime figures for LA County available at the California Department of Justice website. They show a total of 727 persons were arrested for murder in LA County in 2005 (the latest available year), allocated among demographic categories as follows: (Table 1.)

  • Whites: 64 arrested for murder (8.8 percent of total)

 

  • Hispanics: 426 arrested for murder (58.6 percent of total)

 

  • Blacks: 207 arrested for murder (24.8 percent of total)

 

  • Other: 30 murder arrests (4.7 percent of total)

It is not unreasonable to expect illegals to flee the country at greater rates than others after committing murder—or any other crime—so this confirms that idea that the Hispanic half of LA's population is committing up to two-thirds of the crime.

Needless to say, the data reflect that arrests are not disaggregated by nativity or legal status. But disproportionate criminality among illegal aliens is apparent when comparing their population share to their prisoner share. FAIR's Director of Special Projects, Jack Martin—in a study of the 13 states with illegal alien populations above 100,000—estimates that illegals account for 6.4 percent of incarcerations versus 4.9 percent of the adult population. [FAIR—Illegal Immigration and Crime Incidence]

In other words, illegals are 31 percent more likely to be incarcerated than the average adult. States with the highest rates of alien criminality were as follows:

 

 

State

Illegal aliens as % of:

% alien prisoner share above alien population share

Prison population

Adult Population

New York

6.3%

3.3%

90.9%

Washington

5.2%

2.9%

79.3%

Arizona

9.1%

5.6%

62.5%

Florida

4.2%

2.6%

61.5%

California

11.8%

8.3%

42.2%

Source: Jack Martin, "Illegal Aliens and Crime Incidence," FAIR, March 2007.

Illegal aliens account for 11.8 percent—i.e., more than one in nine—of California's total prison population. That's some 44 percent higher than their share of California's overall population.

        Education

MacDonald:

 "…. [She] doesn't like my skepticism towards Michael Gerson's claim that Hispanic culture is 'focused on education.' Here are some other targets that Chavez had better start going after:

UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center and Faculty Center, which in 2006 sponsored a conference on Hispanic student failure. Conference participants presented research that slightly more than 50 percent of Latino students finish high school and 10 percent graduate from college, based on the 2000 federal census. University of California at Davis education professor Patricia Gandara blamed an 'absence of a culture' of college attendance for the low college-graduation rates.

The Brookings Institution. Their 2006 report, "A Fifth of America," noted that 45 percent of Hispanic students are dropping out of suburban high schools." [An NRO Symposium on Conservatives & Hispanics on National Review Online, Page 2]

Chavez: "She continues to argue that half of all Hispanics in the U.S. drop out—going so far as to quote the Chicano Studies Research and Faculty Center at UCLA to prove her point—let me try once again to explain the fallacy. Virtually any statistic about the Hispanic population that does not disaggregate the foreign-born from the U.S.-born will overstate achievement for the foreign-born, while understating it for the U.S.-born, because one out of every two adult Hispanics was born outside the U.S. When it comes to education, the aggregate calculations are particularly off base."

VDARE.COM: Chavez is right: failure to separate foreign-born from U.S.-born Hispanics does distort their dropout rate picture. But even when nativity is taken into account, Hispanics drop out at far greater rates than non-Hispanics. The following data is from the U.S. Department of Education:

Dropout rates by Hispanic origin and nativity, 2000

(Percent of 16- to 24- year olds who are high school dropouts)

 

 

Nativity

 

 

Hispanic

 

 

Non-Hispanic

Hispanic as Multiple of non-Hispanic

Born Outside the U.S.

44.2%

7.4%

6.0

First Generation

14.6

4.6

3.2

Second Generation

15.9

8.2

1.9

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center For Education Statistics, "Status And Trends in the Education of Hispanics," April 2003, Supplemental Table 3.3b.[PDF]

The dropout rate for foreign-born Hispanics (44.2%) is six-times that of foreign-born non-Hispanics—but even U.S.-born first generation Hispanics are more likely to drop out than their non-Hispanic first generation immigrant counterparts.

More troubling still is the fact that second generation Hispanic youths have higher dropout rates than first generation Hispanics.

Bottom line: by encouraging Hispanic immigration, we are importing a troubled population. Mac Donald is right, Chavez is wrong. Expect her to go back to smearing.

Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.