NY Times' 'Manufacturing Recession' Reporter Cites Shaky Info On Illegal-Immigrant Criminality

On February 28 (second item at link), New York Times business reporter David Leonhardt infamously wrote the following:

For Manufacturing, a Recession Has Arrived
The nation’s manufacturing sector managed to slip into a recession with almost nobody seeming to notice. Well, until yesterday.

To this day, Leonhardt appears to be the only one to "notice" a recession in manufacturing -- because it doesn't exist. In fact, the latest related report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) showed that the manufacturing sector expanded for the fourth straight month. That would include February, when Leonhardt made his "recession" call. The ISM reading of 55.0 (any reading over 50 indicates expansion) actually inched up a bit from the previous month's 54.7.
Though it's not possible to tell for sure because of the TimeSelect subscription wall, a Times search on "manufacturing recession" (not in quotes) shows no apparent retraction of Leonhardt's call, but does include plenty of references to other reasons why a recession might be possible.
Leonhardt's "less than perfect" reporting has apparently continued.

In the course of (mostly correctly) calling out Lou Dobbs (requires free registration) over Dobbs' exaggerations concerning the incidence of leprosy in the US, he attempts to minimize the impact of illegal immigrants on America's crime problem. Leonhardt pointed to Department of Justice and Census data showing that "6.4 percent of the nation’s prisoners were noncitizens in 2005," and that "6.9 percent of the total United States population were noncitizens in 2003."
He then appeared to take it a step too far, concluding that:

For a variety of reasons, the crime rate is actually lower among immigrants than natives.

As to the percentages cited, this GAO report ("Information on Criminal Aliens Incarcerated in Federal and State Prisons and Local Jails," issued May 9, 2005) begs to disagree:

At the federal level, the number of criminal aliens incarcerated increased from about 42,000 at the end of calendar year 2001 to about 49,000 at the end of calendar year 2004–a 15 percent increase. The percentage of all federal prisoners who are criminal aliens has remained the same over the last 3 years–about 27 percent.

Translation: If the current estimate of 12 million illegals in the US is accurate (and if "criminal alien" is a subset of only "illegal aliens"), that would represent 4% of the country’s population, and would mean that illegals are over nine times MORE likely (49,000 [27% of federal prisoners] divided by 12 million, compared to 133,000 citizen prisoners [the other 73%] divided by 300 million) to be in federal prison than the rest of the population.
Now it's quite possible that there is a definitional difference between Leonhardt's "noncitizens" and GAO's "criminal aliens." But this excerpt from a different GAO report ("Information on Certain Illegal Aliens Arrested in the United States") would seem to indicate that whatever you want to call them and however many of them there are, they seem to engage in crime more frequently, and more violently. If that is indeed the case, the collective crime rate of illegals could be higher than that of the rest of the population, even if their criminal element is slightly smaller as a percentage of their population.
GAO studied the criminal records of over 55,000 incarcerated illegal immigrants, and found that:

….. they were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times, averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien. Nearly all had more than 1 arrest. Thirty-eight percent (about 21,000) had between 2 and 5 arrests, 32 percent (about 18,000) had between 6 and 10 arrests, and 26 percent (about 15,000) had 11 or more arrests. Most of the arrests occurred after 1990. They were arrested for a total of about 700,000 criminal offenses, averaging about 13 offenses per illegal alien. One arrest incident may include multiple offenses, a fact that explains why there are nearly one and half times more offenses than arrests. Almost all of these illegal aliens were arrested for more than 1 offense. Slightly more than half of the 55,322 illegal aliens had between 2 and 10 offenses. About 45 percent of all offenses were drug or immigration offenses. About 15 percent were property-related offenses such as burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and property damage. About 12 percent were for violent offenses such as murder, robbery, assault, and sex-related crimes. The balance was for such other offenses as traffic violations, including driving under the influence; fraud–including forgery and counterfeiting; weapons violations; and obstruction of justice.

That's quite a collective rap sheet spread over a pretty large sample of illegal-alien prisoners, and though not documented, would appear to be more serious than the criminal records you might find with the remaining prison population. That also doesn't consider the very real possibility that GAO missed many arrests because of the rampant and flagrant use of multiple identities and aliases by criminal illegals.
At best, Leonhardt should not have treated the GAO reports as if they don't exist. At worst, he's dead wrong. But why would you expect him to dig into various report discrepancies when it appears that he won't even own up to his bogus "manufacturing recession" call?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.