Heard In Passing

A few days ago on the radio I thought I heard quick clip of one of my Senators, Jon Kyl, saying that most illegal immigrants were "murderers, rapists, and child molesters."

Say wha---? This seemed like a remarkably extreme statement, even from a strong right-winger like Kyl.

So I did some Googling (God bless Google!), and found the full text of what he said on his website, jonkyl.com.

Not quite as bad as what I thought I'd heard. (Since the online version is dated March 16th, and the audio clip was only a few days ago on NPR, I'm uncertain if the audio came from Kyl reading from the written version, or if he might have been paraphrasing himself.) This is the pertinent paragraph from the website:
The number of illegal immigrants who are criminals is rapidly escalating. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 139,000 of the 1.1 million people apprehended on the border in 2005 were criminal aliens seeking to illegally re-enter the United States. The majority are serious offenders: rapists, murders, child molesters, drug dealers and the like. We've got to get control of our border to prevent this chaos and ensure terrorists are unable to sneak into our country.

So apparently Kyl wasn't claiming that over half of the eleven million illegal aliens in the USA are murderers, rapists and child molesters. He was claiming that 139,000 of the 1.1 million, or slightly more than 1 in 8, of the illegal immigrants apprehended by border police, were known criminals, and that over half of those (or about 70,000) were known rapists, murderers, child molesters "and the like".

What the heck, exactly, is "the like"?

Frankly, though, that "and the like" makes these numbers sound very fishy. Not so much that 1 in 8 of illegal immigrants might have a criminal record -- illegal immigrants tend to come from the poorest and most desperate portion of their countries' populations, and I suspect if you ran figures for criminal records among poor blacks or hispanics in the US, you'd find similar numbers for our own residents, both because crime rates (particularly for property crimes like theft and burglary) are higher in disadvantaged neighborhoods and because there's more police attention to those areas -- but that over half of those criminal records would be for rape, murder and child molestation. "And the like."

I tried to find some general numbers on crime rates in Mexico, but my Google-fu apparently isn't good enough to find it easily. (Although I can give you crime rates for Mexico, Missouri and Mexico, Maine. That's easy!)

And, of course, the subtext of Kyl's remarks is that similar numbers would apply to the much larger numbers of illegal immigrants who were not caught in 2005. Which is a way of proclaiming that probably several hundred thousand rapists, murderers and child molesters entered the USA illegally in 2005.

Now that's the sort of thing I expect Kyl to do. Not to directly come out and say "Wetbacks are going to rape your wives, sodomize your sons, and kill YOU!" but to do it indirectly, genteely, and politely. Kyl is very much a well-mannered, well-dressed politician, but one should try never to forget that a significant part of his support comes from The Guys In The Bars who will say, flat out, "Wetbacks want to rape my wife, sodomize my children, and kill ME!"

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