The eruption of anti-immigrant fury over the federal government’s plans to temporarily relocate undocumented Latino children to shelters and Border Patrol facilities in Murietta, California, and other cities, is largely founded on the expressed belief that immigrants bring drugs and crime, threatening the safety of communities.
Yet as figures from the Murietta Police Department show, Latinos commit fewer crimes, especially drug offenses, compared to whites in their respective proportions of the city’s population. Racially diverse areas with rapidly growing, younger immigrant populations are also becoming dramatically safer from gun violence, according to surprising new figures from the Centers for Disease Control.
While the United States still confronts serious gun violence, its parameters have changed dramatically. Twenty years ago, young Latino men were among those most at risk of dying from gunfire; today, older white men are more endangered.
These trends are illustrated most strikingly in the three most populous states — California, Texas, and New York – where firearms deaths are declining two to three times faster than elsewhere in the country. Developments in these very different states challenge conventional debate on immigration policy and guns.
Comparing the 2011 rate of gun deaths per capita with each state’s peak rate in the early 1990s, gun fatality rates fell by 63 percent in New York, 55 percent in California and 53 percent in Texas — more than double the decline (23 percent) in the other 47 states. Other large states such as Florida, Illinois, Georgia and Pennsylvania lagged far behind the big three.