"Can it be true?" asked a startling e-mail late in December from RightMarch.com, a conservative advocacy group. "More Americans are murdered each year by illegal aliens than have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined!"
At a time when American soldiers' deaths in Iraq had already passed the 9/11 toll of 2,973 and was fast approaching the 3,000 milestone, this was surprising news indeed.
"You read that right," the notice continued. "According to a report by Rep. Steve King of Iowa ... 12 Americans are murdered every day by illegal aliens and 13 people in the U.S. are killed by illegal alien drunk drivers daily."
That's 4,380 murders a year -- more than a quarter of the FBI's 2005 count of 16,692 American killings. And that's 4,745 alcohol-related highway deaths per year -- more than a quarter of the 2005 tally of 16,885 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"That's more than 45,625 innocent U.S. lives cut short by illegal aliens since September 11, 2001," the notice concluded.
A mass murderer was living in our midst without notice -- the neighbor who was always kind, or kept to himself, but then ended up being led outside in handcuffs. Only these foreigners were apparently avoiding even that!
King wasn't available for consultation, but an early May press release on his Web site shows the Iowa congressman promulgating his figures without a source, let alone a study. He decried the national "Day Without Immigrants" rallies held that month as "a misnomer on a couple of counts. First, the threatened boycott fails to conjure the image of a Norwegian refusing to buy his May 1 lutefisk at the corner Fareway.
"Since September 11th," King concluded, "it remains true that OBL is the greatest threat to America. I will leave it to the reader to decide if the greatest threat is Osama bin Laden or the Open Borders Lobby."
WorldNetdaily.com, a popular conservative news and opinion site, used King's figures as proof in several unsettling recent pieces about "killer aliens." Was there nowhere to hide from these deadly hordes?
Helpfully, WorldNetdaily also pointed to King's likely source: A study by Mac Johnson, published in yet another conservative venue, Human Events.
Johnson, writing on Dec. 5, 2005, first acknowledged that no federal agency keeps crime stats on illegals -- not Immigration, not the FBI. So ... he had to make a number of assumptions.
"The murder rates in most ... countries are known and published by the United Nations," Johnson said. "If one then simply assumes that each nationality of alien commits murder at the same rate in America as it would in its homeland, it is then possible to arrive at an estimate of the probable rate of murder by illegal aliens in America."
Supposing that murderousness is nationally or even culturally determined, Johnson still found the resultant 1,480 yearly murders unconvincing. So he further surmised that, because more males and more young people both emigrate and murder, this led to a "simplistic good-faith estimate that illegal aliens kill between 1,806 and 2,510 people in the United States each year."
Which is still only half the rate the Iowa congressman claimed. King's figures were beginning to seem overheated, like an illegal during a desert crossing.
As it turns out, FBI stats show that the national rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter has gone down almost steadily since 1991, from 9.8 per 100,000 inhabitants to 5.6 per 100,000 today. Meanwhile, we are warned about increasingly porous Mexican borders. How can that be?
Then, on Dec. 28, preliminary 2006 murder rate figures were released for major U.S. cities. According to The Associated Press, U.S. officials blamed the rise in killings in certain American metropolises on "[g]angs, drugs, easy access to guns and a disturbing tendency among young people to pull guns to demand respect ..."
Suddenly, Johnson's assumptions began to make sense. Illegals must be murdering at a high rate in this country. After all, Americans were murdering each other for quintessentially American reasons.
Just look at where the American murder rate rose the most: Houston. That's because the city suddenly had more Americans in it fleeing from Katrina, Houston police said.
On the same day, The AP also reported that the National Guard's presence on the Mexican border since July had decreased arrests -- and presumably immigrants -- by one third.
That's one solution to the murder rate. But I'm now convinced that people murder according to their nation's disposition. If we want immigrants to stop killing, we just need to help them avoid deadly arguments over some national trait -- say, eating lutefisk. And if we want Americans to stop killing, we just need to take away one of their natural causes -- say, their guns.