One myth that about crime mentioned in the readings for this week is that crime is steadily increasing on a national level, but in reality, it is decreasing. Data from the Pew Research Center has shown that public perceptions of crime has not been aligning with the data, meaning although most (57%) registered voters said that crime in the United States has gotten worse, FBI data has found that violent and property crime has actually decreased by 19% and 23% since 2008 when this data was collected. This is sadly a very common myth in the United States and this makes it look like we have made no progress toward decreasing crime. Sadly, people in low-income areas are significantly affected by this myth because everyone associates crime as being saturated in these communities, leading me to my next myth. Another myth about crime is that most murders occur in Chicago, this is also false. The Pew Research Center has found that in 2017, Chicago has less than half as many murder and non-negligent manslaughter rates (24.1 per 100,000 residents) compared to St. Louis (66.1 per 100,000 residents) and Baltimore (55.8 per 100,000 residents), showing that Chicago’s murder rates are not as high as people may believe. Another myth about crime is that all crimes are reported in some way and are mostly solved, sadly this is not the case. The Pew Research Center found that in 2017, only 45% of violent crimes were reported to police, or those reported nationwide, police have solved only 46% of violent crimes reported to them. These statistics are disappointing, as we are encouraged to report any crimes, but if someone doesn’t feel as if their case is going to be solved in some way, they are less likely to report any crime that occurs.
One very common and annoying myth about immigration is that immigrants are overrunning the country, with most of them being here illegally. Although it is true that there are more immigrants in the United States currently than there have been previously, the percentage of the overall population of immigrants has not changed significantly. Currently, immigrants make up about 13.5% of the country and have only made about 12-15% of the population between 1900 and 1930. In terms of how many are here legally, as of 2016, 76% of immigrants in the United States are here legally and the population of undocumented immigrants has decreased to its lowest total since 2004, with only 3.5 percent of the U.S. population being undocumented. This myth is disappointing, as people are quick to assume that we have an immigration problem, especially in our current political climate. Another common myth about immigration is that immigrants hurt our country financially by taking “our” jobs without paying taxes. Immigrants are actually helping the economy by creating new jobs and starting their own businesses. Also, immigrants collectively pay between 90 and 140 billion dollars each year in taxes and undocumented immigrants pay about 11.64 billion dollars each year in taxes. This myth is very damaging to immigrants, as it gives the implication that immigrants don’t work as hard as U.S. born-citizens for what they have and that is disappointing and offensive. Another myth about immigration is that all undocumented immigrants come into the United States by sneaking through the Mexican border. Current estimates have determined this to be false, as 30-50% of undocumented immigrants have overstayed their visas, meaning they entered the U.S. lawfully and later became undocumented. An important myth in our current political climate is that we can stop the “increase” of undocumented immigrants by simply building a wall along the Mexican border. This is simply not true. There are many problems with this idea. First, the Mexican and U.S. border is almost 2,000 miles long and even if a wall was somehow built, the border spans across terrain, deserts, and even rivers, a lot of this likely having to be bought by the government due to it being private property. Another problem with this idea is that there really is no point in building a wall, as if people have found other ways to get into the United States, undocumented or not, people can find a way to come into the United States with a wall built. Lastly, one myth about immigration is that immigrants bring crime and violence with them when entering the United States. As I’ve mentioned earlier, crime has only been decreasing in the United States, already breaking down this myth. Also, studies have recently found that immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans. There is a negative correlation between immigration levels and crime, therefore dispelling this myth. The problem with this myth is that immigrants are instantly seen as “criminals” or “rapists”. This is very damaging and must stop.
A large problem with reporting data on crime in the United States is that the way that crimes are weighed are not very consistent. Different studies use various measures to decide whether a crime is violent are not, causing potentially misleading statistics. We need more clear and specific reporting, as these misleading rates can mean higher rates of deportation and longer jail or prison sentences.
Stop and Frisk
Stop and Frisk is the act of stopping and searching someone by police. Stop and Frisk policies are used for police to lawfully detain someone temporarily based on the assumption that they may have some form of illegal contraband on them. Stop and Frisk is meant to decrease illegal contraband throughout the United States. Stop and Frisk policies are definitely an example of structural racism because minorities are usually the people chosen to be subject to these random searches. This is important because structural racism “plays a part in causing police to pull the trigger more quickly on Black suspects”. Knowledge of this racism does not help when someone claims that they had reasonable suspicion to stop and search someone when really they’re guided by their underlying racism.
Deportation and Sanctuary Cities
Sanctuary cities are cities that offers protection to undocumented immigrants. Local officials in these cities do not go far to enforce immigration laws and people in these cities even have help from their local communities in protecting each other. Of the cities that we have discussed primarily this semester, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco are sanctuary cities. A common misconception about sanctuary cities is that they allow these “criminals” into the city to raise crime rates and wreck havoc among locals, which is obviously false. in New York, deportations have increased. But, various organizations, religious institutions, local activists, and local politicians have been making continued efforts to protect immigrants in these cities in various ways. For example, locals in New York have joined the New York Sanctuary Movement and churches have been helping in giving immigrants sanctuary in several ways. What stands out a lot to me is the community willingness to help immigrants. It truly amazes me that a city of people have rallied to help immigrants. One thing that inspires me about the work happening in New York City is the fact that people recognize these immigrants as regular people who are just trying to live normal lives like them.
If I were to have a conversation with someone about the topics discussed this week, I would talk to them about the several immigration myths because these are very important to dispel first. I would want someone to understand that these myths are terribly hurtful to immigrants, as they are not the “criminals” that people paint them out to be. When discussing this topic, I think that statistics will help paint a better picture of how wrong these myths are. I would like to remind anyone that we still have multitudes of work to do when it comes to creating an equal America. We must recognize the community organizers and locals that shed light on these issues and break down these misconceptions about immigrants in order for a change to occur in our country.