Family Values a Valid Criterion for Immigrants?

By Joseph Daleiden
Volume 7, Number 2 (Winter 1996-1997)
Issue theme: "Looking back on the 1996 elections"

In the debate on immigration we often hear the curious justification that we should be happy to take in so many immigrants because they have the right sort of family values. I'm not certain what sort of "family values" the proponents have in mind, but international crime statistics do make me ques-tion what sort of "family values" we are importing.

The largest number of legal and illegal immigrants come from Mexico. While it is true that America is a violent country compared to other Western industrialized nations, our homicide rate pales in comparison with that of Mexico [See accompanying chart]. According to World Health Organization data, the homicide rate of Mexican males was 31.5 per 1,000 inhabitants - over twice the 15.9 rate of the U.S. In fact one reason for the increase in the U.S. crime rate in all categories in recent years has been the huge influx of Mexican immigrants.

Since the majority of immigrants from Mexico come from the lowest socio-economic group, which has the highest crime rate, it is not surprising that they have higher crime rates than even the average for Mexico. The result is higher crime in the U.S. For example, 25 percent of the inmates of federal prisons are foreign-born - the vast majority of these Hispanic.

Of course, to draw attention to the correlation between crime and America's immigration policy is politically incorrect and is thus scrupulously omitted by the media. A Public Radio broadcast dealt with the topic of the sudden rise in crime and gang violence in small towns throughout America. In the course of their interviews of officials in several small towns, every gang mentioned had a Hispanic name. But it would have been politically incorrect for PBS to note the obvious correlation between immigration and increased