Did SB 1070 reduce crime in Arizona?
Immigration activists argued passage of the bill would signal a return to the hard-line immigration approach of SB 1070, the controversial immigration law signed in 2010 by former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
SB 1070 requires law enforcement to determine the immigration status of someone arrested or detained if they have reasonable suspicion that they are in the country illegally. Its passage prompted protests and boycotts of the state.
In a recording of the hearing, Borelli states SB 1070 led to a 78 percent drop in crime. He later told AZ Fact Check that he claimed the law led to a 43 percent drop in crime.
Borelli said he got the 43 percent figure from the Arizona Department of Safety, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the Phoenix Police Department. When asked for details on that statistic he did not elaborate.
AZ Fact Check examined Arizona crime index statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DPS and found crime rates have declined since 2010, but not anywhere near the 78 percent Borelli said during the hearing or the 43 percent he later claimed to have stated.
The crime index numbers from the FBI and DPS aggregate reported crimes from Arizona law enforcement agencies.
DPS statistics show a decline in the state’s crime index of about 9 percent between 2010 and 2014, the last year for which statistics are available.
FBI statistics show a slightly larger decline for that period, about 13 percent. The FBI does not record data from agencies that don’t follow Uniform Crime Reporting guidelines for certain crimes, resulting in a discrepancy between the DPS and the FBI figures.
And experts told AZ Fact Check that even if crime index statistics matched either of Borelli’s claims for the decline in crime, it would not mean SB 1070 is the cause.
University of Utah law professor Carissa Hessick, who has analyzed the impact of SB 1070 said it is nearly impossible to say the law’s passage had any effect on crime.
It is important to note that crime rates in Arizona were already falling before implementation of SB 1070, according to DPS statistics. The Arizona crime index had been steadily declining since 2002 because of a number of factors.
“It’s easy to make a claim about a correlation between crime rates and other factors but it’s extremely difficult to make a causative claim,” Hessick said.
In addition, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between illegal immigration and higher crime rates. Crime rates in Arizona continued to decline as southern border apprehensions were at their peak for the past 10 years — in 2005 with more than 1 million recorded apprehensions.