The rampage of shooting that took place last Friday in Northern California ended tragically with the loss of two police officers and injury to a third officer. A fourth civilian was also shot and injured in this shoot out that lasted for six hours and took place between two Northern California counties before the suspect was arrested. When the shooter, Marcelo Marquez, was taken into custody, he carried identification that bore an address in Salt Lake City, Utah.
As soon as it was discovered that Marquez was present in the United States without immigration status, opponents to any immigration reform immediately spoke against any proposed immigration reform and voiced their opposition to undocumented individuals present in the United States. They began blaming the system for allowing illegal individuals in the country.
Contrary to the opponent’s views, studies show that immigrants present in the United States, including undocumented individuals, are less likely to commit crimes than United States citizens, born here on American soil. With the increase in immigration in many urban areas, the noticeable decrease in criminal activity has not gone unnoticed. Recent studies also show that individuals who are born outside of the United States are less likely to be arrested than people born in the United States. The increase in undocumented immigration has also been shown to coincide with a decrease in crime rates.
In fact, it has also been shown that immigrants who do commit a crime are most often not repeat offenders. Most immigrants who are arrested are less likely than an American born citizen, to be arrested again. It has been found that individuals arrested by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have a recidivism rate of 16%. This was compared to the rate of United States citizen criminal prisoners, whose rate of return to prison was 43%. This according to a study conducted by the Congressional Research Service, in 2012.
Since President Obama took office the number of deportations or removals from the United States has increased significantly. The President maintains that these deportations have been focused on criminal aliens, who may pose a significant threat to the country. However, in reality, a recent report has shown that 59% of the individuals who have been deported had no criminal conviction at all. Of the individuals who did have a conviction, 71% of them did not have a serious, dangerous or violent element to the crime.
Because the shooter in the California murders is undocumented, it will most likely enflame and encourage citizens who are on the fence about the immigration policies to jump on the band wagon of anti-immigration proponents. Some of the anti-immigration rhetoric calls for a zero tolerance policy for all immigration violations. However, this viewpoint contradicts the current climate among law enforcement officers who have been directed to refrain from cooperating with Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs law enforcement agencies. Due to this, the number of individuals being detained for immigration violations is rapidly declining.
The tragedy in California is unspeakable. Innocent lives, including those of two police officers, dedicated to serve and protect, were lost. However, to insinuate that the current immigration debate should come under fire following this incident is ludicrous. We all hope for a fix to the immigration problem in this country but we can’t ignore how the increased deportations from the United States have created additional tragic stories, where families have been torn apart. We can only hope that a fair and comprehensive plan is on the horizon in the near future.