More distortions from the anti-immigrant crowd, or an honest mistake?

Mayor Sam becomes the newest source of falsehoods regarding crimes committed by illegal immigrants


Up at Mayor Sam’s blog right now, Walter Moore has up some figures that I hope he’ll correct soon. Here’s a summary:

As a regular reader, you already know that 40,000 of the inmates in our county jail are illegal aliens…

According to the Sheriff, housing an inmate costs $53.45 per day.

That means the illegal aliens in the L.A. County Jail cost us over $780 million per year.

Repeat: over $780 million PER YEAR for the privilege of housing illegal aliens convicted of crimes.

…which works out to $200 per year for each of the 3.9 million people in L.A.

He cites an LA Times article as his source… but clearly misread where it said:

Federal officials estimated that about 40,000 of the 170,000 inmates who go through L.A. County jails each year are in the United States illegally.

(italics mine)

I’m not one to defend anyone’s right to cross the border, and actually wish we were more aggressive in deporting illegal aliens, especially those that break the law. But Walter’s distortions are the sorts of numbers that fan the flames of bigoted propaganda. I commented on the thread as much and more, and have reposted my comment verbatim after the jump.

(This reminds me of an anti-immigrant email that was making the rounds last year on some well respected blogs that the LA Times debunked…)

My comment:

I’d hate to question your credibility, but at the very least the math you provide here defies total logic.

From the LA Times:

“Federal officials estimated that about 40,000 of the 170,000 inmates who go through L.A. County jails each year are in the United States illegally.”

This doesn’t mean 40,000 illegal aliens live there year round, but they move thru there. I’m sure most of the people who go to jail are there for much less time than an entire year. According to you interpretation, the LA County jails must have 170,000 available beds full at all times.

In fact, the number that LA County Jails can hold at any one time is closer to 15,000 (and I’m being liberal… my count is closer to 12,000).

Based on the 15k number, really the cost to operate the prisons on an annual basis at $53.45/day is more like $292.5 million. Thats regardless of residency status.

So, lets assume that a 1/4 of the inmates ON AVERAGE are illegal immigrants. Thats about 3500 at any one time. Not 40,000. And the total cost is just under $70 million a year, under 10% of your numbers.

Still a travesty to be sure, but your exaggeration is unfounded.

You can do better than this Walter, but this is how those whacked out, right wing racist Republicans get their facts, by lying or just using bad info.

Or maybe I’m just looking at the facts entirely wrong. Please correct me where I’m wrong.

February 05, 2007 8:57 PM

**Walter ended up deleting the entire post, include the comments. For more on this click here.


5 Replies to “More distortions from the anti-immigrant crowd, or an honest mistake?”

  1. seems like he deleted that post, but they’ve put up a whole one dedicated to you! how annoying. internet “wars” are so pointless.

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