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Arizona- Stats contradict immigration rhetoric on crime

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  • Steven Robinson
    (Arizona business leaders fret that immigrant baiting is bad for business. SR) Stats contradict immigration rhetoric on crime by Mike Sunnucks Phoenix Business
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 3, 2010
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      (Arizona business leaders fret that immigrant baiting is bad for business.

      Stats contradict immigration rhetoric on crime

      by Mike Sunnucks
      Phoenix Business Journal -
      June 3, 2010

      Gov. Jan Brewer, State Sen. Russell Pearce, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe
      Arpaio and others supporting the state's new immigration law say it is
      needed to stem waves of crime. However, new reports show crime is on the

      Arizona is main conduit into the U.S. for Mexican cartels and smuggling
      rings and Phoenix is a hotbed for human smuggling related kidnapping, they
      say. "We're out here on the battlefield of illegal immigration and all the
      crime that comes with it," Brewer said on Fox News last month. Brewer
      referred to the situation as "the terror which our citizens live in day and
      day out along the border." Arpaio and Pearce have made similar comments on
      CNN and other national news outlets.

      That rhetoric worries economic developers, tourism officials and others who
      want to attract high-wage jobs to the state. They say it sends a negative
      message that could dissuade visitors, skilled workers and companies from
      coming to the state.

      "Any kind of negative publicity hurts Arizona as it competes for new
      business locates and the jobs and tax revenues they represent, especially in
      the economic climate we live in today," said Rock Rickert, chairman of the
      Arizona Association for Economic Development. "Indirectly, these same
      things - jobs and taxes - are adversely affected when tourism is negatively
      impacted because Arizona is portrayed as a dangerous, inhospitable, or
      backward place to visit." Rickert stressed he isn't talking behalf of AAED,
      a statewide association promoting economic development and business
      attraction, but on his own.

      Crime in the Valley and Arizona is on the decrease, according to recent

      The city of Phoenix reported 131,052 crimes in 2004. That number fell to
      109,784 in 2008 and 90,024 in 2009, according to the Phoenix Police
      Department. Phoenix had 9,679 drug crimes last year compared to 10,741 in

      Statewide, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said there were 255,133
      serious crimes in Arizona in 2009. That is down 12 percent from 2008. DPS
      reported 341,101 serious crimes in 2002 and 291,380 in 2001.

      "Statistically - and you know what Mark Twain said about statistics - the
      overall crime rate is lower now than it has been in recent years, however
      the level of attention being paid to a number of recent pieces of
      legislation, periodic crime sweeps conducted by the Maricopa County
      Department, and incidents of violence along Arizona's border with Mexico
      only increases the national and international perception that Arizona is not
      open for business," Rickert said.

      The exception to that trend is kidnapping, which is at a high level in
      Phoenix because of human smugglers who detain illegal immigrants in drop
      houses asking for extra money. Phoenix has had 1,000 kidnapping reports the
      last three years, according to various sources. Many other crimes against
      undocumented immigrants, including sexual assaults against women, often go

      Still, much of the crime related to drug and human smuggling does not impact
      tourists or law-abiding Arizonans. The Phoenix area ranked as the 74th worst
      metro area for crime in 2009, according to CQ Press. New Orleans, Miami,
      Memphis and Las Vegas are among the top cities for crime. Tucson was 29th
      worst and Yuma 203 worst out of 332 U.S. metros.

      Thunderbird School of Global Management President Angel Cabrera and Greater
      Phoenix Economic Council CEO Barry Broome also are concerned about the focus
      on crime related to immigration flap. The new law gives police greater
      authority to question and detain suspected illegal immigrants.

      GPEC, Thunderbird and some other business and community leaders want to
      launch efforts to combat such negative images propelled by the law.

      Cabrera said Brewer and others are creating an "apocalyptic view" of Arizona
      that will discourage students from studying here, tourism and high-wage job
      growth. "That's not helpful," Cabrera said.

      Year Murders Violent crimes Drug crimes Total crimes

      2003 254 9,816 8,975 122,047

      2004 238 10,503 10,741 131,502

      2005 238 10,782 10,114 121,636

      2006 253 11,240 9,856 117,446

      2007 244 11,125 9,928 117,872

      2008 196 10,864 9,145 109,784

      2009 139 9,282 9,679 90,024

      Source: Phoenix Police Department

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