Crime And Politics

In Indianapolis, municipal elections are held during otherwise “off” political years. Last year we were treated to an effort by  Jefferson Shreve, a rich Republican, to win the Mayor’s office. His campaign ads leaned heavily on assertions that our city was crime-ridden; given the Democratic tilt of the city electorate, the ads did make visible efforts to veil their more racist elements.

Despite spending $13 million dollars of his own money, Shreve failed to exceed the GOP’s base vote, so this year, he’s running for Congress. It’s a barely-purple district, and his television ads are much more explicitly “anti-woke.” Like most Republicans running for office this year, he’s clearly counting on anti-immigrant bias and an entirely bogus insistence that immigrants are the source of an (equally-bogus) American crime wave. 

He’s not alone in that dishonesty.

 NBC recently deconstructed Trump’s assertions of immigrant-fueled crime, reviewing expert analysis and available data from major-city police departments that show zero evidence of a migrant-driven crime wave in the United States. To the contrary, available data shows overall crime levels dropping in cities that have received the most migrants.  See also, Scientific American, (12/7/20) Undocumented Immigrants Are Half as Likely to Be Arrested for Violent Crimes as U.S.-Born Citizens.

When you think about it, it makes sense that people who are undocumented would want to keep a very low profile, in order to avoid deportation.

Another analysis of the available data confirms both the bogus nature of these claims and the political motivation for raising them.

The Republican Party wanted to run a 2024 election campaign on inflation and the economy. That made some sense in June 2022, when inflation was at a 40-year high of 9.1 percent. But now inflation has fallen to 3.1 percent, and unemployment has been below 4 percent for 24 months. Banging on about prices and the economy no longer seems like a winning strategy.

So the GOP has pivoted back to its standard tactics: fear-mongering, scapegoating, and bigotry.

Fox News is no longer talking about high prices 24/7. It now apparently believes the central problem of our day is … immigrant crime.

Public Notice publisher Aaron Rupar counted 27 mentions of “migrant crime” on Wednesday alone across Fox News and Fox Business. “Migrant Crime Sparks New Outrage Across US” one chyron screamed; the segment included giant mugshots of immigrant Latino men accused of crimes. Hosts hit President Biden for not discussing “migrant crime” during a speech he gave that day.

“It’s difficult to convince Americans that they are safe or becoming safer when they do not feel safe in this nation,” John Roberts proclaimed.

Americans don’t feel safe because Republican candidates constantly lie to them about their safety. These candidates have concluded that the only way they can win is by playing on racism and fear of crime–by creating a moral panic. There is absolutely no data supporting their accusations.

A 2020 Cato study of Texas found that for native-born Americans, conviction rates were 1,422 per 100,000. For undocumented immigrants, the rate was much lower — only 782 per 100,000.  And for legal immigrants, the rate was 535 per 100,000. Cato found that immigrants were less likely to commit violent crimes, property crimes, homicides, and sexual assaults than people born in the United States.

A 2023 Stanford study found similar results when it looked at imprisonment rates going back to 1830. Immigrants have basically always been imprisoned at lower rates; today, they are 60 percent less likely to be incarcerated than people born in the US. That’s in part because Black people are disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system. But even if you just look at the incarceration rates of white people born in the US, immigrants are imprisoned 30 percent less.

Migrant crime is much less of a problem than crime by native-born people. But even native-born Americans are committing fewer crimes; crime rates overall are down.

Murder rates in 2023 fell by more than 12 percent from 2022, among the biggest recorded drops. Other violent crimes also decreased. Retailers claimed that there was a huge increase in shoplifting in the last few years — but that turns out to have been almost entirely a myth

As the linked article notes, GOP rhetoric may not be based in fact, but it does have (an unsavory) basis in demagoguery and racism. Linking marginalized groups to crime to build power and justify violence is, unfortunately, nothing new.

Of course, migrants do commit some crimes. In a country with some 45 million immigrants, it’s easy to find a handful of mugshots to put on your screen. But the scare tactic is nonetheless a scare tactic; there is not a sweeping crime wave perpetrated by immigrants. To say otherwise is a lie.

The GOP’s recent refusal to pass a border control measure that gave them virtually everything they’d demanded so that they can run on the issue really gives the game away.


  1. Immigrants are not the source of the daily morning shooting reports on our local news in Indianapolis. There is no way identify the unsafe areas of this city because the violence is located north, south, east, west and in the downtown area. If immigrants and/or politics is to be blamed for this escalating problem here, the race and political affiliation of the perpetrators and the victims needs to be identified and reported along with the crimes.

    As an aside; early last week as local NBC, Channel 13 reported 6 separate shootings over the previous weekend, the closed captioning on one report stated “the victim was taken to ASK A NAZI hospital”. Deciphering garbled closed captioning is a problem nationally, it is easy to lose site of facts when trying to figure out what the actual message is. We need to be aware of crimes in our neighborhoods but so many crimes so wide-spread makes that difficult to report and garbled closed captioning is an additional problem. Just sayin’

  2. In Shreve’s television ad campaign for congress he proudly announces that he fought the democrats in the mayoral election, but nowhere does he mention that he resoundingly lost.

  3. One of the GOP’s main talking points on immigration is that Biden can make the problems at the border go away with executive orders. This makes sense nowadays because the POTUS can start a war without Congressional approval. Why did he need a bipartisan bill passed?

    The GOP could crucify Genocide Joe by pointing out he is an accomplice to genocide in Gaza, but they won’t go there because many of them received money from AIPAC. X was full of AIPAC candidates who won their races on Super Tuesday. There were lots of Republican candidates mixed in with the Democrats. Foreign government influence isn’t even mentioned in legacy media. Can you imagine a Russian PAC sending money to US politicians? LOL

    Washington is full of corrupt liars, hypocrites, and double standards. The best news yesterday was the resignation of the murderess Victoria Nuland. Aside from Hillary Clinton, Toria is responsible for the highest death count in the State Department. She should be in The Hague.

  4. My goodness! The vitriol from Todd has reached a new low. It’s not Biden who is committing genocide, it’s Netanyahu. He doesn’t need any help from us to do what he’s always wanted to do.

    Yes, Republicans lie about everything. Why? Because they have no pro-society agenda. Why? Because their corporate bribers insist that selling fear puts these monkeys in power to give them yet another tax break. Remember the great tax cuts of the last few years? Well, guess what. Corporations didn’t use them to expand their businesses, pay their employees more or invest in new technology. They used the tax cuts to BUY BACK THEIR OWN STOCK. Oh, and increased profits went on the express train to foreign banks. THAT is what the Republican party stands for.

    So, Todd, since you’re so intent it castigating “both sides”, please list the items for which the Democrats are similar to Republicans. You know, names and events … like a good journalist.

  5. Welfare queens, socialist/Kenyan Obama, death panels, Victory Accomplished, tax cuts pay for themselves, I have no clear memory of that, etc. etc. If the GOP stopped lying, what could they possibly have to say? It’s worked for decades. Why stop now?

  6. Todd you are so correct. What gives aid to the argument is that politicians, judges, and the media is full of socialists is because they are going after their political opponents like they did in the USSR, Nazi Germany and China. They simply use the judicial system to discriminate and jail their political opponents.
    It’s gotten so bad the truck is now able to make a comment he’s discriminated against those in the black community can relate to him because they have been discriminated against. Of course the socialist in the media take this out of context, and say that the black community likes him because he’s been indicted.
    Instead of politicians, running on policy today, which most of the policies in place over the last two years are a failure they they turn to race.

  7. John S.,

    You clearly have NO idea what socialism is nor who are and are not socialists. I suggest doing some research … you know, like a real journalist.

  8. Yes – murders are down. But “property crimes” are up – break ins, theft, robbery. These are often related to the “crimes” of addiction, mental illness and homelessness, which are also going up, in many cases no thanks to right wing failure to fix (and/or encourage by things like “recreational” drug and sports/online gambling legalization.

  9. We desperately need to overturn Citizens United, which opened the flood gates to dark money. At the very least, we need accountability for the money and a bill requiring full disclosure of donors for ALL 501 organizations on their 990 would go a long way toward that goal. Knowing who is paying for the bs can help us see who we’re really dealing with, which should make it easier to discern a purpose, if there is one.

  10. The “GOP has pivoted back to its standard tactics: fear-mongering, scapegoating, and bigotry.”

    This is standard rhetoric for tyranny. Let strong me protect weak you. Give me your freedom, and I’ll give you safety and comfort and entertainment to soothe the absence of purpose and your ease of survival.

    Surprisingly, most humans are willing to make that trade and take that deal.

    That certainly does not make me proud to be one of our species and doesn’t bode well for our collective survival.

  11. Per Sheila’s data, overall crime may be down, but it does spike it different areas for different reasons. The main reason why it is such a national issue is the media – “If it bleeds, it leads…”

  12. Lies in the political context are mere means of altering truth to the political advantage of the liars, and criminal statistics is only one are where Republicans have excelled. There are others. Republicans literally change the facts to suit their preordained conclusions, conclusions that support their arguments for tax cuts, for instance. Aristotle would be aghast.

    To do: Keep telling the truth day and night while challenging every lie they tell, especially those of Trump, their Chief Prevaricator.

  13. Whose “truth”? Today’s Washington Post exit polling of GOP primary voters in VA, NC and CA:

    “A 55 percent majority of voters in Virginia’s Republican primary said Trump would be fit to be president even if convicted of a crime, alongside larger majorities of Republican voters in North Carolina and California, and those voters overwhelmingly supported Trump” (93/94%).

  14. It’s awful to see these wealthy white men running for office scapegoating the most vulnerable people among us. They’re big bad bullies exploiting desperate hard-working people to build their savior political image. Reminds me of a mafia method of extorting “insurance money” from businesses for protection. It Ends up the payment is to be kept safe from crimes by the mafia itself. Offer to fix a problem that’s not there, so if they win office, they don’t have to do much, but enjoy the perks and maintain the questionable status quo.

  15. Have read the article by Michal Hicks that was recommended by Dave Kelleher. I highly recommend this to all on this blog. For me, while Hicks shows what happened to form the KKK in Indiana, it also answers the question of why so many people, particularly from rural areas, have gravitated toward Trump.
    Simply put, it has been the loss of community, the loss of a shared life experience, and the banning together of those who feel that loss. They have created a new community of sorts with a leader, planned gatherings, support from their local churches, politicians and news outlets. They even have a publicly recognized piece of clothing to wear.. the red cap. It’s all uncanny.

  16. Lester. If 55 or 60% of Republican primary voters think Trump would be fit to be President even if he were convicted, that means 40 to 45% must think he wouldn’t be. He can’t lose a big chunk of his base and still be elected.
    But I still don’t put much trust in polls even when they tell me what I want to hear. There are just too many uncontrolled variables even in the best of them. They can be easily skewed, too. I think they are just as likely to tell us what the pollsters want us to hear as they are to reflect reality.

  17. Theresa, if you are interested in the decline in community (other than MAGA), suggested reading is “Bowling Alone”.

  18. Sharon – A substantial hunk of the some 35-40 percent of Republicans who voted for Haley, especially women already angry with the Republican stand on their reproductive health rights, will either vote for Biden or stay home, which is good news for the Democratic ticket, including the down ticket, and such vote could be in the millions with adroit campaigning. Republican votes for Democrats are the best kind, i.e., it’s not only a vote for Democrats but a vote the Republicans don’t get, the latter stay-at-homes also provide.

    Democracy and Dobbs are on the ballot, and to hear Trump, the architect of chaos and sedition plead for “unity” last night was a pathetic experience akin to an address Benedict Arnold might have given during the Revolution. GRRRR!

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