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Who's Threatening Murrieta's "Safety"?

After Alan Long, the mayor of Murrieta, California, declared that his community’s “safety” was threatened by 140 “illegal immigrants,” mainly children, being bused in to the local Border Patrol Station from overcrowded Texas shelters, hundreds of angry anti-immigrant protestors blocked the buses on Tuesday and forced them to turn back.

However, while the mayor was praising his Police Department’s “contingency plan” to protect residents from Latino women and children on the buses, he might have looked at the department’s own statistics on who is committing crime in Murrieta.

Murrieta Police Department, reported by California Criminal Justice Statistics Center

The latest figures from the Murrieta Police Department show it is actually Whites who are overrepresented in the city’s crime statistics, while Latinos are less likely to commit crime than their population would predict (see chart).

Compared to their respective shares of the city’s population, non-Latino Whites commit 4 percent more criminal offenses, including 6 percent more felonies and a shocking 41 percent more illegal drug offenses (a crime often and wrongly blamed on immigrants) than Latinos do.

While the mayor’s letter called the housing of recent, undocumented immigrant women and children instead of immediate deportation “a failure to enforce federal law,” the applicable federal law actually requires that child immigrants first be turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement pending deportation proceedings — which requires temporary housing.

Further, blocking public roadways, as the protestors did in Murrieta on Tuesday, is a violation of the law  and when the city's police officers and officials stood idly by and let them get away with criminal behavior, Mayor Long said he was "proud" of them. (When I participated in a demonstration blocking the Santa Monica Freeway to protest the Vietnam War in 1969, the LAPD showed up in force and arrested hundreds.)

So, if Murrieta's mayor and flag-waving protestors want to keep their city safe — and they think excluding populations with higher propensities to crime is the way to do it — then statistics and behaviors argue for letting the immigrant children stay in their town and busing the mayor, cops, and Tuesday’s protestors down the road.

Keywords: Mike Males, police practices, race

Posted in Blog, Social Justice

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