Patterico's Pontifications

2/5/2009

A Further Discussion of the Numbers in That Misleading L.A. Times Article on Targeting Fugitive Aliens.

Filed under: — Patterico @ 7:07 am

A review of the report itself makes it quite clear that we have seen an increase in the absolute numbers of arrests of illegal fugitive aliens with criminal records.

Here are the approximate numbers of fugitive aliens arrested each year:

2003: 613 fugitive aliens with criminal convictions arrested
2004: 2568 fugitive aliens with criminal convictions arrested
2005: 2388 fugitive aliens with criminal convictions arrested
2006: 2629 fugitive aliens with criminal convictions arrested
2007: 2737 fugitive aliens with criminal convictions arrested

With the exception of a very slight dip in 2005, the number of fugitive aliens with criminal convictions arrested has gone up every year.

The report misleadingly focuses on percentages and not absolute numbers, so it takes a bit of work to get the actual numbers. But it’s relatively simple and straightforward to arrive at these numbers. I simply compared a table showing the total numbers of arrests each year with a separate table showing the percentage of arrests that turned out to be fugitive aliens with criminal records.

For example, in 2003, Figure 3 shows 1900 arrests. (The actual number was 1901 according to footnote 55.) Figure 6 shows that 32% of the arrests were of fugitive aliens with criminal convictions. 32% of 1900 is 608. In footnote 55, we are told that 613 fugitive aliens with criminal convictions were arrested, so the percentage I calculated is very close, but off by a handful due to the lack of total accuracy in the reported numbers in the various tables.

In 2004, we’re told there were 6584 arrests, and 39% were fugitive aliens with criminal convictions. That makes 2568. (Table 3 lists the number of fugitive aliens who either have a criminal history or are a danger to the community. This number is 2596, slightly more than the pure number of fugitive aliens with criminal convictions.)

In 2005, out of 7959 arrests, 30% were fugitive aliens with criminal convictions, or 2388.

In 2006, after the policy was changed, there were 15,462 arrests. 17% of those arrests were of fugitive aliens with criminal convictions. 17% of 15,462 is 2629.

In 2007, there were 30,407 arrests. 9% were fugitive aliens with criminal convictions. That’s 2737. (Oddly, Table 3 says that only 2677 people were arrested who either have a criminal history or are a danger to the community. I can’t reconcile that number with the others; again, the report clearly misreported something there.)

In 2008, there were 33,997 arrests. There was no data available as to what percentage were fugitive aliens with criminal convictions.

In addition, Table 3 shows that there is an ever-increasing number of fugitive aliens without criminal convictions who have been arrested. This number is over 50% of total arrests every year. So, while not every fugitive alien arrested has a criminal record, most of the arrestees are fugitive aliens — and the government is arresting more and more of them every year.

The bottom line is that, while the absolute number of fugitive aliens with criminal records arrested every year has remained fairly constant, many other illegal aliens without records are also being arrested — meaning that the percentage of criminal aliens goes down as a percentage of the whole.

Here’s a simplified example to being that jumble of words alive. Let’s say that I run a task force designed to arrest illegal alien fugitives with criminal records. Let’s assume that in Year 1, I serve 100 warrants and arrest 100 fugitive criminal aliens — and encounter 400 other illegal immigrants, but don’t arrest them because they’re not my targets. I’ve made 100 arrests, and 100% of those were of fugitive aliens with criminal records.

Now assume that in Year 2, I again serve 100 warrants, and again arrest 100 fugitive criminal aliens — but this time I also arrest the 400 other illegal immigrants that I encountered in the course of my raids on the fugitives’ houses. Now, I have arrested 500 people — 5 times as many as last year — but only 20% of my total arrests are of fugitive criminal aliens.

Does this lower percentage mean that my team “abandoned its stated mission to go after dangerous fugitives and instead targeted noncriminal undocumented workers”? Of course not.

The report and today’s article both emphasizes that we have seen a decrease in the percentage of fugitive aliens with criminal records as a fraction of total arrests. But this is no indication that ICE is “abandoning” efforts to target fugitive criminal aliens. It’s simply a result of the fact that, since 2006, immigration officials have begun arresting any illegal immigrant they encounter in these raids, whether they are fugitives or not.

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