Wednesday, December 24, 2008

King's comments on immigration have national life

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has been trafficking in provocative falsehoods about the tie between immigrants (read Hispanics) and crime. The comments frequently pop up in arguments and debate about immigration across the nation -- in newspapers large and small and other places.

One of the better responses I've seen came today, Christmas Eve, in an opinion piece in The Port Townsend Leader in Washington State.

Here is some of the piece:

Letter writer Gary Price claims "we need to ... face some hard facts" on illegal immigration. Mr. Price lifts his "hard facts," without first verifying them, from pronouncements Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, made more than two years ago and since thoroughly debunked. These "hard facts" erroneously devolve from King's claim that 28 percent of prisoners in all American jails and prisons are "illegal aliens," citing an April 2005 GAO report.

However, that report addresses only federal prisoners and includes both illegal and legal immigrants. It includes no prisoners in state and local jails, about 92 percent of the U.S. jail population. Rep. King wrongly extrapolated the GAO data into unfounded "statistics" that Mr. Price regurgitated here. The actual percentage of illegal immigrants in state prisons and local jails was less than 4 percent, not "28 percent," as determined from SCAAP compensation to states and localities and federal Bureau of Justice Statistics prisoner counts. So much for the "25 deaths each day" caused by "illegals."

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