Nativist Groups Use Brutal Crime for Their Own Purposes

As a part of their Machiavellian attempt at poisoning the conversation in this country on immigration, nativist groups are twisting an awful crime for their own purposes. The Community Watchdog Project and Southern Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Reform, nativist groups responsible for fostering ill will toward immigrant communities and pro-immigrant policies in New Haven, CT, are exploiting a brutal beating and rape of a female worker for their own divisive purposes. Such behavior on these groups’ part is hateful and destructive to the well-being of the greater New Haven community.

The horrific crime took place on March 27, in the New Haven suburb of Hamden, by a suspect who is believed to possibly be an undocumented immigrant. The CWP and SCIR held a rally March 31 accusing the City of New Haven of being largely to blame for the crime. The City’s Elm City Resident Card program—which affords all residents greater access to municipal services and increased communication with law enforcement officials—is, the hate groups assert, responsible for enticing violent criminals to New Haven, and should be ended.

It is appalling—but, sadly, not surprising—that the anti-immigrant groups would use this incident to advance their own fear-based agenda. Such groups attempt to create a mythology that immigrants, documented or undocumented, are responsible for a dramatic increase in violent crime in this country. There is no viable research to support such a belief. Indeed, studies suggest the immigrant demographic, on the whole, is less responsible for crime than other demographics. As Tom Barry of the Center for International Policy writes:

There have been dozens of national studies examining immigration and crime, and they all come to the same conclusion: immigrants are more law-abiding than [non-immigrant] citizens. A 2007 study by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) found that immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are substantially less likely to commit crimes or to be incarcerated than U.S. citizens.

…As the study noted, the fact that many immigrants enter the country illegally is framed by anti-immigration forces as an assault on the “rule of law,” thereby reinforcing the false impression that immigration and criminality are linked.

Rather than stereotyping the entire immigrant community as being fertile ground for violent criminals, communities around the country must resist such and continue to work with jurisdictions to create a safe environment for all residents regardless of documentation. All of us who are caring, conscious people not only offer our deepest condolences to the victim of the dreadful crime in Hamden; we also deplore the fact that her tragic situation is being exploited by hatemongers attempting to make Connecticut a closed, divided society.