The Myth of the Migrant Crime Wave

“There’s no question that some undocumented immigrants have committed heinous crimes. But there are many reasons to be doubtful that recent incidents are evidence of a surging migrant crime wave.
For one, crime is down in the cities that received the most migrants as a result of Texas’ busing operations under Operation Lone Star, per an NBC News analysis. “Overall crime is down year over year in Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, New York and Los Angeles,” NBC News reported.

David J. Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, echoes that finding. “We don’t have real-time data, but the partial crime data that exist for this year show consistent declines in major crimes in major cities,” he says. “The most significant crime spike in recent years occurred in 2020—when illegal immigration was historically low until the end of the year.”

“National crime data, especially pertaining to undocumented immigrants, is notoriously incomplete,” since it “comes in piecemeal and can only be evaluated holistically when the annual data is released,” cautions NBC News. What’s more, “most local police don’t record immigration status when they make arrests.”

However, several analyses conducted at both the state and federal levels find that immigrants—including undocumented ones—are less crime-prone than native-born Americans. Looking at “two decades of research on immigration and crime,” criminologists Graham Ousey and Charis Kubrin found that “communities with more immigration tend to have less crime, especially violent crimes like homicide,” wrote The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler. A 2015 Migration Policy Institute report indicated that undocumented immigrants have a lower rate of felony convictions than the overall U.S. population does.

The Cato Institute’s “research has consistently shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes and less likely to end up incarcerated than natives,” Bier continues. An article this week by Alex Nowrasteh, vice president for economic and social policy studies at the Cato Institute, indicated that illegal immigrants have a lower homicide conviction rate in Texas than native-born Americans do, while legal immigrants have a lower conviction rate than both groups.”

Fact Check: Charges dropped after suspect misidentified in attack on NYPD officers

“Charges against a man initially arrested as a suspect for attacking police officers in New York City were dropped, according to the Manhattan District Attorney, because he had been misidentified as a participant in the January 2024 brawl, not because crime by a “migrant” has “no consequences,” as suggested in social media posts.

Posts on social media, opens new tab shared a photograph showing a 22-year-old Venezuelan man, Jhoan Boada, with captions such as: “The Manhattan DA just dropped all charges against Jhoan Boada, 22, migrant who flipped the bird at photographers following his involvement in a gang attack on the NYPD. No consequences.”

“The Manhattan DA’s office said in an email, citing court documents, that, “After a thorough and diligent investigation, Jhoan Boada has been exonerated as a participant in this assault” and that the complaint against Boada was dismissed.
The DA’s office told the court that another man, Marcelino Estee, had been identified as the person described in the complaint as “wearing the black & white jacket with pink shoes, committing this assault” and that Estee had been charged for his participation.”

Opinion | Why Is Trump Getting Special Treatment From the Supreme Court?

“In recent years, the Roberts Court has shown greater and greater impatience with criminal defendants’ efforts to forestall punishment — even if the outcome would be cruel, needlessly painful or simply unjustified. The effect of this new hostility to delay is most sharply felt in the death penalty context. But a general hostility to foot-dragging in criminal cases is a through line in the court’s docket.
Justice Neil Gorsuch set the tone for this approach in 2019, when he complained that legal challenges to the death penalty were often used to stall or even derail execution. Courts, said Gorsuch, should “police carefully against attempts” to use constitutional challenges as tools to interpose unjustified delay.” In particular, he warned, “last-minute stays should be the extreme exception, not the norm.”

The court has since followed Gorsuch’s lead with an unsavory relish. Before 2020 and the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it was common for the Supreme Court to grant stays to hear legal questions that arose at the last stage of a capital case. Since then, it has only granted two such stays. In the same period, it has also vacated nine stays on death sentences imposed by lower courts.

The result has been predictable: Many of the convictions the court has let stand are plausibly described as “riddled with errors.” And in January, the court declined to hear a challenge to Alabama’s novel use of nitrogen gas to execute Kenneth Smith. Witnesses described Smith’s resulting death as horrific — extended and torturous — and not at all painless as the state promised.

The same is true of federal prosecutions. In the last half of 2020, the court stepped aside as the federal government sprinted to execute 13 people — as many as had been killed in the previous six decades. Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted that the court “repeatedly sidestepped its usual deliberative processes” to enable an “expedited spree of executions.” In its haste to see punishment done, the court waved away its usual rules.

Outside the capital punishment cases, the Supreme Court has added more and more constraints upon prisoners’ ability to challenge constitutional errors. Gorsuch and Justice Clarence Thomas in particular have urged that the longstanding right to challenge state court convictions in federal court be effectively gutted. The effect of their proposal would be to streamline even further the criminal justice process — shutting down almost all efforts to raise objections before they had even started.

All this makes the Supreme Court’s decision to hear Trump’s appeal for absolute immunity from all criminal charges even more unusual, and troubling.

Start with the weakness of Trump’s argument. There is absolutely no constitutional text, no precedent and no authority in the original debates over the Constitution’s ratification to support the idea for a former president’s absolute immunity. The argument advanced by Trump’s counsel is patently absurd. The idea that senators could impeach a president who threatened them with deadly violence and so no criminal justice process is needed, is facetious. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rightly ridiculed it — and issued a comprehensive, tightly reasoned and unanimous opinion that presented no good cause for further review.

Trump is within his right to appeal the decision, but there’s no good reason for the Supreme Court to take it up and review it as a matter of law — especially given how thorough the D.C. Circuit was.

In fact, the court’s erstwhile concern with “unjustified delay” in criminal cases would seem to cut hard against hearing the case. It is, after all, a matter of common knowledge that the former president’s legal strategy is to run out the clock and thus prevent a trial prior to the election. Here then is a case where justice delayed may well be justice derailed.

Indeed, the grounds for the court rejecting Trump’s request to take up the immunity question appear much stronger than in Kenneth Smith’s challenge to the use of nitrogen gas. If Smith had been successful, Alabama could have found another, permissible way to kill him. If Trump’s trial is delayed enough, it may never happen. If Trump is back in the White House, he can easily quash the Justice Department’s case.

The Supreme Court’s attention, moreover, is a precision good. In the court’s 2022-23 term, the court issued just 58 decisions. Given that this scarce commodity is so infrequently used to prevent the miscarriage of criminal justice, the question must be asked: Why now? And why for this defendant?

There is no good answer. It is hard to see any legally sound reason why the Supreme Court should have decided to step in to hear Trump’s implausible and constitutionally destructive claim for absolute criminal immunity — especially when it has refused to hear so many other criminal defendants’ far more meritorious claims.”

The Supreme Court just handed Trump an astonishing victory

“The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Trump’s DC criminal trial, the one concerning his attempt to steal the 2020 presidential election, must be delayed for at least another two months. The Court already effectively delayed his trial for an additional two and a half months in an order handed down last December.
This order is a colossal victory for Trump, and could potentially allow him to evade criminal responsibility for his attempts to overthrow the 2020 election altogether. Trump’s goal is to delay his trials until after Election Day. Should he prevail in that election, he can then order the Justice Department to drop all federal charges against him.

Trump was able to secure such an order from the justices by exploiting the fact that the federal judiciary ordinarily does not allow two different courts to have jurisdiction over the same case at the same time. So, when a party to a lawsuit or criminal proceeding appeals a trial court’s decision, the trial court often loses authority over that case until the appeal is resolved.

The ostensible reason for the Court’s order putting the trial on ice is that the Court needs that time to consider a weak appeal challenging a ruling by Judge Tanya Chutkan, the judge presiding over his DC criminal trial.

According to Trump, the Constitution forbids any prosecution of a former president for any “official acts” he engaged in while in office. The implications of this argument are astounding, and Trump’s lawyers haven’t exactly tried to hide them. During one court hearing, the former president’s lawyer told a judge that Trump could not be prosecuted even if he had ordered “SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival,” unless Trump were also impeached and convicted by the Senate.”

“Yet Trump has now, with Wednesday’s ruling, leveraged this ridiculous legal argument to delay his DC trial for at least four and a half months, and the delay will likely extend much longer because the Court will need time to produce an opinion. The Court will hear oral arguments in late April.

Simply put, Wednesday’s order is a disaster for anyone hoping that Trump may face trial before the November election. And, because the nominal reason for this order is to give the justices more time to decide if the president is completely above the law, this decision raises serious doubts about whether this Court can be trusted to oversee Trump-related cases in a nonpartisan manner.”

How the nation’s capital became an outlier on violent crime

“In 2020, during the pandemic and after the murder of George Floyd, homicide and violent crime across the US soared. The number of murders that year represented the largest increase since the FBI began formally tracking national statistics in 1960.
But 2023 was different: Across the spectrum, violent crime and homicide dropped significantly from their 2020 peak, and murders fell more than 12 percent in cities, according to the FBI’s latest crime report. Last year saw “one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the United States in more than 50 years,” Jeff Asher, a crime data analyst, writes.

There were exceptions: In Memphis, Tennessee, murders skyrocketed in the 12 months following the killing of Tyre Nichols by city police, and in Shreveport, Louisiana, they jumped by more than 37 percent. But no other city has experienced a crime surge — or the accompanying national scrutiny about its meaning — like the nation’s capital has.

DC saw its deadliest year in more than two decades, with 274 people killed and a homicide rate that makes it among the deadliest cities in the country. Violent crime also spiked nearly 40 percent in the nation’s capital, driven largely by a surge of armed robberies and carjackings, many of them perpetrated by kids. The city reported more than 950 carjackings in 2023, and shocking news coverage about teen carjacking rings rattled residents and people who worked there.”

“DC’s lack of statehood partly explains why its criminal-legal system is more complicated. Most cities have local government and law enforcement agencies that operate in conjunction with state and federal law enforcement, but the District of Columbia, because of its status as a federal district, has a much more complex, overlapping system of agencies and offices.”

“Amid rising crime last year, city leaders passed emergency legislation last summer handing more power to police and prosecutors to go after people suspected of committing violent crimes; the council is working on a larger public safety bill that would expand upon last year’s legislation. In describing the turn from police reform efforts toward expanding powers for law enforcement, Mayor Muriel Bowser told the Washington Post late in 2023 that “the pendulum is swinging back to the middle.”

Other major cities that enacted police reforms post-2020 didn’t see rising violence like DC did in 2023, making it less likely that any recent legislative changes are directly responsible for the violent crime surge. Research shows that when it comes to preventing crime, certainty of getting caught is a greater deterrent than severity of punishment — and the city has serious challenges catching those who commit certain violent crimes.”

“DC faced its largest police shortage in roughly 50 years in 2023, after being unable to meet its recruitment targets or keep pace with attrition. While the city isn’t alone in struggling with staffing shortages, police in the city are also arresting far fewer people than they used to.”

“the arrests in DC declined the most in areas where violent crime surged. In another analysis of police staffing in early 2023, DC Crime Facts also found that police weren’t deploying heavily in areas where crime was rising the fastest, raising questions about whether there were enough police focused on the “hot spots,” areas where crime is more likely to happen. Decades of research shows that targeting hot spots is an effective strategy for significantly reducing crime.”

No, Blocking Traffic Is Not Protected by the First Amendment

“freedom of expression is crucial and central to the American project. It’s also not a force field by which people are shielded from other rules. If I want to get people’s attention by, say, driving 120 miles an hour while sporting a Palestinian flag, I cannot tell the officer who pulls me over for reckless driving that I’m simply exercising my free speech rights. The First Amendment does not give carte blanche to violate the law.”