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Maricopa County, Arizona, which encompasses Phoenix, has recently released a white paper (PDF) examining crime statistics of illegal immigrants in the county.

The report calculates that illegal immigrants constitute approximately 9% of the population of Arizona. In 2007, 18.7% of defendants sentenced in Maricopa County Superior Court were confirmed illegal immigrants. Another 3% were suspected to be illegal based upon sampling. Thus, the total percentage of illegal immigrant defendants sentenced for felonies in Maricopa County Superior Court in 2007 was probably closer to 22%.

Breaking it down further, illegal immigrants accounted for:

  • 16.5% of those sentenced for violent crimes.
  • 18.5% of those sentenced for property crimes.
  • 33.5% of those sentenced for the manufacture, sale or transport of drugs.
  • 50% of those sentenced for crimes related to “chop shops.”
  • 35.8% of those sentenced for kidnapping.
  • 20.3% of those sentenced for felony DUI.
  • A few thoughts. First, the report is comparing the illegal immigrant population of Arizona to the illegal immigrant crime rate of Maricopa County. It does not attempt to make any calculation of the illegal immigrant population of Maricopa County itself, which could be higher than 9%.

    Second, as the report itself notes: “The considerably higher criminal convictions for illegal immigrants than the rest of the population found by this study may be due to skewed demographics. That is, young males account for the bulk of crime in America. If the illegal immigrant populatin is over-represented by young males, the higher rate of criminality might be explained.”

    In other words, 78 year-old Mexican women aren’t crossing the border, 18 year-old males are. 18 year-old males of any society are more violent and take more risks.

    Third, one of the focal points of the study is the cost of crime and incarceration. The report calculates the cost to the state of incarcerating Mexican nationals at approximately $114 million annually. The report calculates that “financial hardship” from crime imposed on citizens of Maricopa County totaled approximately $60 million. Additionally, approximately $26.6 million was being spent by four border counties on criminal justice services.

    These figures reinforce my belief that any attempt at comprehensive immigration reform needs to be done in conjunction with the Mexican government. We export jobs all the time because we think that it is economically more efficient. I think we need to export the incarceration of Mexican nationals to Mexico and the Mexican government needs to pay for it. Mexico should be able to incarcerate people cheaper than we can. And, if they’re paying for it then it removes one significant drawback to having an open border.

    One more note: 80% of all illegal immigrant arrests occurred in just three states: California, Texas and Arizona.