The California catastrophe is all about immigration

(Note: in the initial posting of this entry, I used a rule of thumb to get a quick approximation of the number of Hispanic prisoners in California prisons. One reader showed me that the rule of thumb was off, and another reader has directed me to a document with recent figures on the prison populaton. I’ve changed the entry to reflect this information.)

As I pointed out yesterday, Tamar Jacoby and her open-borders crew are feeling a little shaky about their chances of legalizing all of America’s illegal aliens and vastly increasing legal immigration. If you’re wondering why, consider the dire straits of America’s premier immigration state, California. A panel of federal judges has just ordered California to reduce its state prison population by more than 25 percent over the next two years, from 150,000 to 110,000. The reason is that California’s prisons are operating at 200 to 300 percent capacity, with many prisoners living in very bad conditions that the judges consider violations of their constitutional rights.

The moment I saw the story, I asked myself, what is the percentage of California’s prison population that are illegal aliens? And guess what? The answer, according to a July 10 editorial at Investors Business Daily which draws on a recent Pew study, is 25 percent. Illegals make up seven percent of California’s population, and 25 percent of its prison population, the same percentage as the ordered size of the prisoner release. There are other impressive statistics in the IBD editorial. According to the FBI, 95 perceof warrants for murder in Los Angeles are issued for illegal aliens. IBD also reminds us that the “sanctuary” policies of many California cities, which bar police from reporting illegal aliens to federal immigration authorities so that they can be deported, has assured that illegals remain free and in the U.S., until they commit more serious crimes requiring incarceration.

In any case, how about simply releasing and deporting all of California’s illegal alien prisoners now (except for the most serious violent offenders), while simultaneously sealing the borders (which needs to be done anyway) so that they can’t return?

Also, what is the percentage of the California prison population that is Hispanic, apart from Hispanic illegal aliens? According to “California’s Changing Prison Population,” published in 2006 (here is pdf), three of every four men in prison in California are nonwhite: 38 percent are Hispanic, 29 percent black, and six percent of another race or ethnicity. If the Pew figures on the illegal alien prisiner population is correct, 13 percent of the prison population are Hispanic legal residents and citizens. Had the U.S. not opened itself to Hispanic and Third-World immigration 45 years ago, and had California in particular not been so welcoming and accomodating to legal and illegal Hispanics, California’s prison population would be far smaller than what it actually is.

In this and in so many other ways, liberalism in general, and Third-World immigration in particular, have turned the once great state of California into a basket case. I remember the infamous Wall Street Journal editorial, repeated several times in the 1980s and ’90s, advocating a constitutional amendment that said, “There shall be open borders.” I remember an editorial in The Weekly Standard in the mid 1990s that mocked, as though it were the equivalent of UFOs, as though it were the silliest thing in the world, the idea that immigration represented a problem for California. I remember Ron Unz’s 1999 cover article in Commentary in which he said that the main threat that immigration posed to the U.S. was that it might trigger a white backlash. I remember William Kristol during the immigration debate of 2006 saying on television with a smug smile on his face, “I like illegal immigration.” And I remember Tamar Jacoby telling her open-borders conference in June 2009, “The basic goal is to promote the free flow of labor into the USA.” The neocons—particularly the Jewish neocons, who have been at the forefront of the open borders crusade because, to put it bluntly, they identify with immigration more than they identify with America—should be made publicly accountable for pushing America into this disaster.

Here is the IBD editorial

Bailing Out Illegals
Investors Business Daily
July 10, 2009

Illegal Immigration: As California issues IOUs to its citizens, another ballot proposition may be brewing to cut off benefits that are draining the state budget. From education to welfare to crime, the cupboard is bare.

California is a leader in both government debt and the sanctuary city movement. But as its citizens seek shelter from the economic storm, the question has arisen anew whether its non-citizens and the better life they want takes precedence over its citizens and the better life they are entitled to.

In this mother of all recessions, it’s getting harder to argue that illegal aliens are here to do the jobs Americans won’t do. These days there are fewer jobs Americans won’t do. These days there are fewer jobs, period. It’s fair to ask whether those who are going to pull the wagon of higher taxes should get to decide who rides inside.

California is now paying out about $80 million a day in unemployment insurance benefits as unemployment hovers around 11.4% and is on pace to top $1.5 billion for the month of July, Employment Development Department officials report. California’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund ran out of money in January. The state has been borrowing from the federal government since then to make the payments.

These unemployment figures would be worse were it not for Californians leaving the state in droves. Between 2005 and 2007, some 2.14 million of them fled to other states, while only 1.44 million moved to California from other states.

Illegal aliens constitute about 7% of the state’s population, or about 2.7 million, according to an April report by the Pew Hispanic Center. State officials say that they add about $4 billion to $6 billion in costs, primarily in the area of schools, prisons and jails, and emergency rooms. This is money the slightly less Golden State can scarcely afford.

For fiscal 2009-10, it’s estimated that about $834 million will be spent to incarcerate 189,000 illegal immigrants in the state’s prison system. In Los Angeles County alone, Supervisor Mike Antonovich says, illegal aliens add up to $550 million annually in criminal justice costs.

Little note has been made that much of California’s prison crisis is due to crimes committed by illegal aliens invited in through the sanctuary policies of its major cities and their policies of not allowing local police to notify immigration authorities when suspected illegals are apprehended.

According to statistics released by the FBI, more than 95% of arrest warrants issued in Los Angeles for the crime of murder are for illegal aliens. Nearly 25% of the California prison population consists of illegal aliens. Increased border and interior enforcement, coupled with expedited deportation, could help immeasurably.

The state legislative analyst estimates, based on Pew data, that about 300,000 of the state’s 6.3 million public school students are illegal residents. They are educated by California taxpayers to the tune of $7,626 each for a total cost of nearly $2.3 billion.

At the college level, California is one of 10 states that grant the children of illegal aliens in-state tuition rates. The financial benefits of these programs to illegal aliens are as great as the penalty imposed on U.S. citizens and state treasuries. So if their parents sneak in from Guadalajara, they get a break that the children of an Iraq veteran from Nevada doesn’t.

In health care, the expected tab for 2009-10 is $703 million for as many as 700,000 illegals. Even Gov. Schwarzenegger was moved recently to propose limiting welfare and non-emergency health care for them.

The last time things were this bad in California was in 1994, when Proposition 187 was passed to deny taxpayer-funded benefits to the undocumented. A U.S. District Court judge ruled most of it unconstitutional, but activists looking at California’s plight and the burdens illegals impose are working to resurrect a similar proposition.

They want a “no vacancy” sign hung on Hotel California.

[end of IBD editorial]

—end of initial entry—

Paul Nachman writes:

The IBD editorial you quote says: “According to statistics released by the FBI, more than 95% of arrest warrants issued in Los Angeles for the crime of murder are for illegal aliens.”

That informaton likely originates in Heather Mac Donald’s article on illegal-alien crime. Here’s what she says:

In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens.

Note the important word “outstanding,” which is missing from what IBD wrote.

Further comments:

1. Mac Donald gives no source, but I think I saw her remark somewhere else that the figure came from someone in the LAPD bureaucracy.

2. Whatever the source, how could anyone claim to know this? Wouldn’t it, by its very nature, be a highly elusive fact or quantity?

3. IBD refers to the FBI. Maybe the FBI has, indeed, also had something to say about this. But again, how would the FBI know [see #2]?

4. Still, it might be true.

LA replies:

It does seem hard to believe. There are, after all, lots of bad people in Los Angeles besides illegal alien criminals.

Paul K. writes:

You wrote, “I remember William Kristol during the immigration debate of 2006 saying on television with a smug smile on his face, ‘I like illegal immigration.’”

To be fair, that’s the only smile he’s got.

LA replies:

True, though “smug” isn’t quite the right word.

Dan R. writes:

“The neocons—particularly the Jewish neocons, who have been at the forefront of the open borders crusade because, to put it bluntly, they identify with immigration more than they identify with America—should be made publicly accountable for pushing America into this disaster.”

Last week I was visiting my sister and her family in Great Neck, New York. We’re all Jewish—to varying degrees—and Great Neck is an upper-class suburb on Long Island, bordering Queens, with a substantial Jewish population. And Great Neck is undergoing changes. There are Indians and Iranians, and while driving through the town we passed by a block with several obviously Korean-owned businesses. My sister, along with her husband, is a believer in immigration (and an enthusiastic Obama voter), and as we drove by one could feel the emotion in her voice as she proudly exclaimed, in a slightly louder voice than she had been speaking, “now we’re getting lots of Koreans!” And then it occurred to me: anyone but white Christians? And once again, it occurred to me that for many Jews there is an almost vested interest in seeing America’s white Christian majority become just another minority.

August 7

Ed D. writes:

As a follow up to your article about illegal aliens filling up California’s prisons, I’m watching a show right now (12:09 am CDT, Aug 7) on the History Channel called Gangland. The gang being featured is called “Brown Pride,” a gang in Nashville, Tennessee (yes, NASHVILLE) that was engaged in a bloody gang war with MS-13. One of the most interesting things was when the narrator near at the beginning of the show stated that one gang member currently incarcerated for murder came to the United States in 1996 when he was a child. His father was a construction laborer. The gang “Brown Pride” did not even exist yet in 1996. The gangs entire bloody existence is very recent, and attributable to one thing and only one thing: immigration.

[Note: I realize the below comment is flawed in various ways, for example, the data are drawn from different secondary sources, and my math is seat of the pants. But I’ve shown it to two readers more mathematically and empirically knowledgeable than I, who say that while my reasoning is not perfect, my main point nevertheless makes sense. So, with those caveats (after all, this is blogging, not rocket science), I’m posting it.]

LA writes:

It seems to me that the 38 percent figure for the Hispanic prison population which I quoted from “California’s Changing Prison Population” is unlikely. If illegal aliens are seven percent of California’s population and 25 percent of the prison population (as per the Pew study), and if Hispanic are 35 percent of the state population (as per Wikipedia), and if almost all the illegals are Hispanics, then the Hispanic legal population is 28 percent of the state population, that is, 35 percent minus seven percent, and the percentage of the California prison population represented by Hispanic legal residents and citizens is 13 percent, that is, 38 percent minus 25 percent. This would mean that the Hispanic illegal population, seven percent of the state total, is producing 25 percent of the prison population, 3.5 times its share of the whole population, while the legal Hispanic population, 28 percent of California’s population, is producing only 13 percent of the prison population, less than half its share of the state population. We would of course expect that Hispanic legal residents and citizens would produce significantly fewer convicted criminals than illegal alien Hispanics, but would we really expect that the incarceration rate of Hispanic legal residents and citizens would be less than one seventh that of Hispanic illegal aliens? Furthermore, does it seem at all possible that the legal Hispanic population, which according to the Sentencing Project have an overall incarceration rate in the U.S. twice that of non-Hispanic whites, would have in California an incarceration rate lower than that of non-Hispanic whites? (Explanation: if non-Hispanic whites at 40 percent of the population [that’s just a guess—it was 47 percent in 2000], make up 25 percent of the prison population, and if legal Hispanics at 28 percent of the state make up 13 percent of the prison population, then the white incarceration rate is higher than the legal Hispanic incarceration rate.)

I don’t know enough to work this all out, but my guess is that many Hispanic prisoners are being counted as white, and that the Hispanic prison population is significantly higher than 38 percent.

(Note: in 2007 the Pew Hispanic Center put the Hispanic population of California at 38 percent.)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 05, 2009 06:50 PM | Send

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