Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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Trump’s nose-stretcher on immigrant murders in the U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump sent reporters into fact-checking mode Friday when he claimed that illegal immigrants had murdered 63,000 Americans since 9/11. The Washington Post‘s Philip Bump calls B.S. on that.

From the Washington Post (“The original source for Trump’s claim of 63,000 immigrant murders? Bad data from Steve King in 2006.“):

“Sixty-three thousand Americans since 9/11 have been killed by illegal aliens. This isn’t a problem that’s going away; it’s getting bigger,” he said. “Sixty-three thousand, and that number they say is very low because things aren’t reported. Sixty-three thousand, and you don’t hear about that.”

No, you don’t. Because it’s demonstrably not true, and it wends its way back to a blog post from 2005 written by none other than Rep.Steve King (R-Iowa).

Trump first came across the figure in March. He was hosting a roundtable on sanctuary cities at the White House that included, among other guests, Mary Ann Mendoza.

Mendoza is the mother of Sgt. Brandon Mendoza, killed in 2014 by a drunk driver, an immigrant in the country illegally who had had previous charges against him dismissed. At that roundtable, Mary Ann Mendoza presented Trump with the 63,000 number.

“Over 63,000 Americans have been killed since 9/11 by illegal aliens,” she said. “It’s a crime spree that is being left unchecked, and these sanctuary city officials — state and city officials — they’re putting American lives into harm every single day.”

“It’s an average of 12 Americans a day, which is how many are killed in the United States,” Mendoza replied.

“Boy. That is some number,” Trump said. “I’ve never heard that number before. That’s an incredible number.”

Bump does a little math. There were 17,250 homicides in the United States in 2016, the most recent year for FBI statistics. For a 365.25-day year, that’s 4,383 homicides, or roughly one-quarter of the total.

We traced that number back to its source. On May 5, 2006, King posted an article on his official website in response to national pro-immigration protests held that month. The post is a catalogue of anti-immigrant scaremongering. Here’s the key paragraph, with emphasis added:

“What would that May 1st look like without illegal immigration? There would be no one to smuggle across our southern border the heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines that plague the United States, reducing the U.S. supply of meth that day by 80%. The lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day. Another 13 Americans would survive who are otherwise killed each day by uninsured drunk driving illegals. Our hospital emergency rooms would not be flooded with everything from gunshot wounds, to anchor babies, to imported diseases to hangnails, giving American citizens the day off from standing in line behind illegals. Eight American children would not suffer the horror as a victim of a sex crime.”

Bump goes through King’s faulty math and assumption to conclude (read the whole article for the nitty gritty):

Put simply, King seems to have basically made the number up more than a decade ago and, since there isn’t good data on the number of crimes committed by people who immigrated illegally, it was embraced by those looking to put a number to it. There’s simply no credible reason to believe that there have been 63,000 killings committed by undocumented immigrants since 9/11, and plenty of reason to think that the homicide rate among members of that group is lower than for native-born Americans.

What’s really remarkable, though, is that this is a bit of data that was just presented as a matter of fact by the president of the United States. This was a number so impossibly useful for Trump that when he first heard it, even he was a bit wary about its provenance. And yet, three months later, he’s presenting it as accurate without a hint of an asterisk.

The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale chipped in a couple tweets:

Fri, June 22 2018 » * Big Picture Stuff, Main Page, Media, politics