Boyles guest acknowledges "no one really knows how many Americans per day are being killed by aliens and illegal aliens"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

On 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show, guest William Gheen said, "[N]o one really knows how many Americans per day are being killed by aliens and illegal aliens" after revising a dubious statistic previous guests have cited about the number of Americans killed each day by illegal immigrants.

On the October 26 broadcast of The Peter Boyles Show, Americans for Legal Immigration president William Gheen revised a dubious statistic frequently cited by Boyles's guests, saying that "between 12 and 25" Americans are killed each day by illegal immigrants. Gheen also acknowledged that "no one really knows how many Americans per day are being killed by aliens and illegal aliens."

Previous Boyles guests have cited statements by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) in claiming that 25 Americans are killed each day by illegal immigrants, and Boyles has falsely claimed that this figure is "a GOA [sic] number," referring to the U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO]. But rather than asserting that the GAO reported this figure, King claimed in May to have "extrapolate[d]" it from a GAO study he requested that, he said, showed that 28 percent of inmates in federal, state, and local prisons and jails are "criminal aliens."

There is no GAO study reporting that 25 Americans per day are killed by illegal immigrants. Moreover, Colorado Media Matters has reviewed GAO reports addressed to King as well as figures released by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and has found no support for his assertion that 28 percent of inmates in all prisons and jails are criminal aliens.

One GAO study addressed to King did report that about 27 percent of all inmates in federal prisons in 2004 were criminal aliens, but it did not report on the percentage of state and local inmates that are criminal aliens. The study noted that the 27 percent figure applied to all noncitizens in federal prison -- not just to those in the country illegally. Moreover, according to a May 2006 BJS report, less than 7 percent of all federal and state prisoners at midyear 2005 were noncitizens.

On Boyles's show, Gheen said Colorado Media Matters is "all up in arms because I came on your show, and I said that according to Congressman Steve King's office in Iowa, that at least 25 Americans per day were being killed by illegal aliens. Come to find out that the study and whatnot it was killed by aliens or immigrants, non-U.S. citizens, at least 25. It wasn't specifically illegal aliens."

Gheen acknowledged that "the truth of the matter is that no one really knows how many Americans per day are being killed by aliens and illegal aliens. Everything is an estimate." He added, "So, because I said 25 when the actual number is over 12 or between 12 and 25, instead of 25, they've jumped up in the air screaming that, 'Look, look. Here's an example that William Gheen is untrustworthy, and Peter Boyles is disseminating terrible propaganda to the nation.' " Colorado Media Matters has not previously published an item about Gheen's use of the dubious figure, though a previous Boyles guest did mention Gheen while citing that figure. During the show, Gheen also mentioned an email exchange he had with Colorado Media Matters editorial director Bill Menezes.

Where does King's figure come from?

In May, King claimed in at least two speeches and one op-ed that illegal immigrants murder 12 Americans each day and kill 13 each day as a result of drunken driving accidents. In a May 27 speech to the Wake Up America Foundation's Unite to Fight Summit, King cited a "GAO study that I had done" to support these figures. However, he did not assert, as Boyles has, that the GAO reported that illegal immigrants kill 25 Americans each day. The GAO has not, in fact, reported this figure.

Rather, King said that the GAO study "shows 28 percent" of all inmates in federal, state, and local prisons and jails are "criminal aliens." According to the GAO, "Generally, criminal aliens are considered to be noncitizens who are residing in the United States legally or illegally and convicted of a crime." King claimed to have used the 28 percent "criminal alien" number to "extrapolate" his daily death-toll figures:

KING: That GAO study that I had done supports those numbers. I went through it thoroughly. Between the cities, the counties, the state and the federal penitentiaries, that study -- my study shows 28 percent are criminal aliens. Now, if you extrapolate that across the crimes that are committed, between first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter -- willful, violent, death -- that number comes to, on average, 12 Americans a day die at the hands of those who come into this country that, if we'd enforced our borders, would not be here to commit the crime. That's the violent ones. That's the willful ones. There's another 13 every day that die in a wreck because of negligent homicide, because of victims of drunk drivers who should not be here in this country. That's 25 Americans a day -- that number since September 11 exceeds 28,000.

Similarly, in a May 3, 2006, speech on the House floor, King claimed that the 28 percent figure "means then that criminal aliens are committing 28 percent of the crimes in the United States. And so that means 28 percent of the murders, 28 percent of the rapes, 28 percent of the violence and the assaults and battery, first- and second-degree murder and also manslaughter attacks are committed by criminal aliens." He added that "if we hadn't allowed any illegals to come into the United States ... that would equate and extrapolate down to 12 fewer murders every day, 13 fewer people that die at the hands of negligent homicide, primarily the victims of drunk drivers ... ."

King did not say in either speech how he performed this "extrapolat[ion]." It is possible, however, that King simply multiplied annual crime statistics by 28 percent. According to FBI Uniform Crime Reports statistics, in 2004 -- the most recent year for which such statistics were available in May -- there were 16,148 murders and non-negligent homicides in the United States. (16,148 x .28 / 365.25 = 12.4 ≈ 12 deaths allegedly caused by legal and illegal immigrants)

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, in 2004, 16,694 people were killed in alcohol-related automobile accidents in the Untied States. (16,694 x .28 / 365.25 = 12.8 ≈ 13 deaths allegedly caused by legal and illegal immigrants)

What does King's GAO study actually show?

In claiming that illegal immigrants kill 25 Americans each day, King has repeatedly said that 28 percent of inmates in federal, state, and local prisons and jails are "criminal aliens." On May 27, he claimed that this figure came from a GAO study he requested. A Colorado Media Matters search of the GAO website revealed two GAO reports -- dated April 7, 2005, and May 9, 2005 -- addressed to King. Neither study provided figures for the number of Americans killed each day or year by illegal immigrants. Moreover, neither report suggested that 28 percent of all inmates in federal, state, and local prisons and jails are criminal aliens or illegal immigrants. However, the April 7, 2005, report, "Information on Criminal Aliens Incarcerated in Federal and State Prisons and Local Jails" did address the question, "For recent years, how many criminal aliens were incarcerated?"

Citing federal Bureau of Prisons data, the GAO reported that "over the last 3 years" the "percentage of all federal prisoners who are criminal aliens" was "about 27 percent." Though King did not appear to differentiate between "criminal aliens" and illegal immigrants in his speeches, the GAO defined criminal aliens in federal prison as "[n]oncitizens who are residing in the United States legally or illegally and convicted of a crime."

The BJS has reported lower numbers. According to the BJS, on June 30, 2004, "noncitizens" represented 20.3 percent of federal prisoners, down from 23.5 percent in 2003 and 25.0 percent in 2002.

Despite King's claim that his GAO study showed that 28 percent of inmates in "the cities, the counties, the state and the federal penitentiaries" are criminal aliens, neither of the GAO studies addressed to him reported on a percentage of state or local inmates who are either criminal aliens or illegal immigrants. Instead, the April 7, 2005, report stated that "there was no reliable population and incarceration cost data on criminal aliens incarcerated in all state prisons and local jails."

However, data from the BJS suggest that the percentage of prisoners who are criminal aliens, at least at the federal and state levels, is far lower than King claimed. According to the BJS, 6.4 percent of all state and federal inmates at midyear 2005 were "noncitizens" -- not just illegal immigrants -- down from 6.5 percent in 2004, 6.6 percent in 2003, and 6.9 percent in 2002.

The BJS has also reported that noncitizens -- both legal and illegal immigrants -- comprise far less than 28 percent of the prison populations in the individual states with the highest number of noncitizen prisoners. According to the BJS, at midyear 2005, noncitizens represented 10.1 percent of all inmates in California, 6.0 percent in Texas, 5.6 percent in Florida, 12.7 percent in Arizona, 12.6 percent in Nevada, 3.2 percent in North Carolina, and 4.2 percent in Illinois. The BJS also reported that at midyear 2005, foreign-born inmates made up 11.8 percent of New York's prison population and 5.1 percent of Colorado's. According to the same BJS report, at midyear 2005, Arizona, New York, Nevada, and California were the only four states in which noncitizens represented more than 10 percent of the state prison population.

From the October 26 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show:

BOYLES: We have gotten a lot of email because of an organization entitled Media Matters. And they have critiqued guests that have appeared on this show, and saying that they are not telling the truth. And one of the people that gets critiqued is this man. Please say good morning to William Gheen. Mr. Gheen, good morning.

GHEEN: Peter, glad to be back.

[...]

BOYLES: You define the argument for yourself. Whether it's the war, illegal immigration, gay marriage, whatever it is. Don't let somebody define your argument for you.

GHEEN: And, and it doesn't change the fact that at least over 12 Americans per day are being killed by illegal aliens.

BOYLES: Now, the critique comes from this organization, and this is the response to it, is that you made a statement on this show about the deaths caused by illegals, and I think you were citing Congressman King. Is that right?

GHEEN: That's true.

BOYLES: Tell -- take back, tell all that story, and then say what you would like to say.

GHEEN: Well, I've been getting emails from this guy named Bill Menezes.

BOYLES: Um hmm.

GHEEN: How do you pronounce his last name?

BOYLES: I don't know, but that's close enough.

GHEEN: Well anyway, they're all up in arms because I came on your show, and I said that according to Congressman Steve King's office in Iowa, that at least 25 Americans per day were being killed by illegal aliens. Come to find out that the study and whatnot, it was killed by aliens or immigrants, non-U.S. citizens, at least 25. It wasn't specifically illegal aliens, although the truth of the matter is that no one really knows how many Americans per day are being killed by aliens and illegal aliens. Everything is an estimate. So, because I said 25 when the actual number is over 12 or between 12 and 25, instead of 25, they've jumped up in the air screaming that, "Look, look. Here's an example that William Gheen is untrustworthy, and Peter Boyles is disseminating terrible propaganda to the nation." The bottom line to it is that -- what's important is that far too many Americans are being killed and injured today by illegal aliens that aren't supposed to be here in the first place, that our system can remove and prevent many of these crimes. It's not a matter of whether there are 12 or 25. Now granted, both numbers are terrible, and even at 12 or more illegal aliens -- Americans killed by illegal aliens per day -- that's over the September 11th casualty count.

BOYLES: Yeah.

GHEEN: And everyday our website at alipac.us -- and my phone, my phone rings with victims, and my website is filled with horror story after horror story from one end of this country to the other about crimes that are committed by illegal aliens and Americans that are lost to this problem. And for them to nitpick over 25 -- were they legal or illegal aliens versus a smaller number beneath 25 is just a distraction. They want people to overlook, to overlook the main issue which is that Americans are being killed by illegal aliens and that you have got to go to The Peter Boyles Show to get this information in the first place, because the major networks don't cover it like they should.

BOYLES: Well, what -- what's interesting to me and I use this, I guess, as an analysis. We've had Marie Waldron on the show, who is in Escondido [California] and is being sued by the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] because she has passed legislation that if you rent to an illegal and they catch you, you're going to get fined. So I asked this question: Can anybody tell me when the last time the ACLU sued a state, the federal government, a city, a municipality, a county, a town, a township for not enforcing laws on illegal immigration? I can't. In other words, the ACLU is now going after this councilwoman and her legislation. OK, fine. But can you tell me the last time the ACLU went after somebody, William, for not enforcing a law on illegal immigration?

GHEEN: You've got the same problem with this Colorado Media Matters. Their goal is to go after conservatives politically. That's what they plan on doing, when we don't really need a conservative -- a group going after conservative talk radio hosts.

BOYLES: Now, I don't -- listen. It doesn't matter. The point of it is, is, you know, you will know them by their limping.

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