Cable News Repeats Myth Illegals Commit Less Crime Than Citizens

January 9th, 2019 4:17 PM

Between Monday evening and Wednesday morning, a significant number of journalists and regular commentators across CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News have cited claims from a handful of flawed studies claiming that illegal immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than do American citizens.

But, as previously documented by NewsBusters, the conclusions of these studies are highly questionable while a few studies have suggested a higher crime rate by illegals.



On both Tuesday and Wednesday morning, CNN analyst John Avlon made the claim on the show's "Reality Check" segment as he fact-checked President Donald Trump's claims about the need for greater border security. On Tuesday, after noting Trump's concerns about caravans of illegal immigrants traveling to the U.S., the left-leaning CNN analyst then recalled, without making a distinction between illegal and legal immigrants, that "nationally, as immigration has gone up, violent crime has gone down."

Then, without accurately describing the CATO Institute as a libertarian group -- meaning it has very liberal views on some social issues -- Avlon misleadingly added: "And, according to the CATO Institute -- not exactly a liberal organization -- undocumented immigrants in Texas, for example, were responsible for less crime per capita than their native-born counterparts."

On Wednesday morning, reacting to President Trump's speech, Avlon asserted that the President "characterized undocumented immigrants as, quote, 'criminal gangs, drug smugglers, and human traffickers,' despite study after study from left, right, and center showing that undocumented immigrants per capita commit less violent crime than American citizens."

On Tuesday night, his CNN colleague Don Lemon made similar claims, and John King only referred to "immigrants" generally without specifying illegals as the two reacted to President Trump's speech from the Oval Office.

Over on MSNBC, host Rachel Maddow actually admitted that, if it were true that illegals have a high crime rate, it would be a legitimate argument in favor of more border security. Then, without pointing out that the murder rate in Mexico is eight times what it is in the U.S., she praised the country for having a higher vaccination rate.

On Monday night, after referring to "Trump's assertions that immigrants bring crime and disease with them across the Southern border," she conceded: "That would actually be a rational argument maybe if it weren't false. Crime rates among native-born Americans are higher than those for immigrants."

And over at Morning Joe on Wednesday, host Joe Scarborough made simiilar claims as CNN's Avlon as he wrongly claimed that "every" study finds that illegals commit crime at a lower rate. Scarborough: "Every study shows -- government statistics show -- CATO, as far from a liberal think tank tank as possible, shows."

He added:

There's a CATO study showing illegal immigrants are 44 percent less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Legal immigrants are 69 percent less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Illegal immigrants are underrepresented in the incarcerated population.

On Monday night, FNC's Geraldo Rivera got hysterical while debating right-leaning FNC contributor Dan Bongino on the issue: "You know as well as I know that these people commit fewer crimes than citizens commit! You know that they make neighborhoods safer.-- not more dangerous -- according to the statistics."

On Tuesday night, after the President's speech, FNC anchor Shepard Smith claimed that "there is less violent crime by the undocumented population than by the general populaton."

One bright spote this week occurred when FNC host Laura Ingraham cited a study by right-leaning crime analyst John Lott finding that illegals in Arizona are incarcerated at a higher rate.