Emails, Alex Nowrasteh, senior immigration policy analyst, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute, Sept. 4, 2018

(PolitiFact Texas)

9:27 a.m.

Hello again from the Austin newspaper and the fact-checking PolitiFact Texas project.


I write with fresh urgency for a story I hope to complete today as we review a recent claim (bolded and underlined below) by Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general.


In an Aug. 26, 2018, appearance on “Fox & Friends,” Paxton called decriminalizing border crossings “a little scary,” telling the host: “Obviously you know we’re a border state. We are struggling with protecting our border, protecting our people. To have a policy like this that takes away criminalizing crossing the border, you’re basically opening up your borders.


“And the reality is we already struggle with this,” Paxton said. “We’ve had over 600,000 crimes committed by illegals since 2011. Over 1,200 homicides. We've had human trafficking. We've had all kinds of drug crimes. And if we make it more lenient, we’re going to get more of it. So it’s going to cost lives if we go down this path,” Paxton said.


To our inquiry, Paxton’s spokeswoman has pointed us to a familiar (though amended) source, the Department of Public Safety’s web page devoted to tallies of arrests of individuals believed to be living in the U.S. without legal authorization. You will notice, though, that the page -- “Texas Criminal Illegal Alien Data” -- has been amended to present figures differently than in past months and years.


I have tentatively combined the two sets of counts on the revised page. Does it seem accurate to say that, per the DPS, from June 2011 through July 2018, more than 185,000 individuals believed to be living in the U.S. without legal permission were jailed in Texas who together accounted for more than 279,000 criminal charges including 586 homicide charges--and 225 homicide convictions?


How else would you analyze the accuracy of Paxton’s claim?


Anything more seem notable about the revised DPS presentation?


Any other recommended resources or experts?


As before, I appreciate your considering these questions. As ever, we rely on attributable on-the-record information for our stories.






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W. Gardner Selby

Reporter / News

Austin American-Statesman

PolitiFact Texas

1:01 p.m.

I’d portray the data a little differently than Paxton.  According to Texas DPS data for the year 2016, 372,227 natives, 15,256 illegal immigrants, and 16,277 legal immigrants were convicted of a crime.  92% of those convicted were natives, 4% were illegal immigrants, and 4% were legal immigrants.  But natives were only 83% of Texas’ population that year, legal immigrants were 11%, and illegal immigrants were 6% - meaning that illegal immigrants committed fewer crimes than you’d expect given their percentage of the population.  The most crime-prone group in Texas were American natives.

On Sep 4, 2018, at 5:24 PM, Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin) wrote:

Thanks; where did your figures come from?

4:56 p.m.

The crime numbers came from public information request that I filed with the Texas Department of Public Safety.  The population figures from the American Community Survey and the Center for Migration Studies.