PolitiFact: Facts don’t back up Dan Patrick’s ‘criminal alien’ stat

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, seeking re-election, entered 2018 by warning on his campaign’s Facebook page that “criminal aliens” committed more than 500,000 Texas crimes in recent years.

We wondered about Patrick’s declaration in part because we’d just found scant data about Texas crimes committed by individuals living illegally in the United States. Also, research rooted in U.S. Census Bureau data suggests that, nationally, unauthorized immigrants commit few crimes.

Here’s Patrick’s statement on Facebook, which he presented against the backdrop of a wire fence: “566,000 crimes made in Texas by criminal aliens in the last 6 years.”

We took that to mean that “criminal aliens” were found guilty of 566,000 crimes over six years. Then again, text in smaller print to the right of Patrick’s statement specifies: “In the past six years, criminal aliens have been charged with more than 566,000 crimes in Texas including kidnapping, homicide, burglary, and much more. There is no excuse for endangering our communities by allowing criminal aliens who have committed a crime to go free.”

Some perspective: We estimate, starting from Texas Department of Public Safety annual crime reports for 2011 through 2016, that there were 5,513,663 adult criminal arrests in the state in the six-plus years referenced by Patrick. If the 566,000 figure offered by Patrick solely reflects arrests, he was referring to about 10 percent of adult arrests in the state.

We asked Patrick about the basis of his 566,000 “crimes made” statement.

A spokesman, Alejandro Garcia, replied: “We have answered this question many times.” Garcia provided a link to a DPS webpage with a chart showing arrests covering 11 crime categories. It adds up 638,411 arrests “associated with criminal aliens.”

Did all those arrests occur in the six-plus years noted by Patrick on Facebook?

Not so.

A related DPS webpage noted by Garcia says that, according to Department of Homeland Security “status indicators, over 240,000 criminal aliens have been booked into local Texas jails between June 1, 2011, and December 31, 2017. During their criminal careers,” it says, “these criminal aliens were charged with more than 638,000 criminal offenses.” We read “criminal careers” to refer to the booked individuals’ lifetime rap sheets.

More from the DPS page about those “career” arrests: “Those arrests include 1,300 homicide charges; 76,044 assault charges; 18,126 burglary charges; 76,660 drug charges; 774 kidnapping charges; 43,591 theft charges; 49,154 obstructing police charges; 4,180 robbery charges; 6,878 sexual assault charges; and 9,561 weapon charges.”

Unmentioned in that text: 352,143 of all the tallied arrests, 55 percent, were for “all other offenses,” according to the DPS.

According to DPS criminal history records, the agency says, those 638,000-plus criminal charges “have thus far resulted in over 286,000 convictions.”

The DPS page says the convictions break out to 547 homicide convictions; 28,592 assault convictions; 8,915 burglary convictions; 37,581 drug convictions; 268 kidnapping convictions; 19,803 theft convictions; 24,084 obstructing police convictions; 2,153 robbery convictions; 3,164 sexual assault convictions; and 3,973 weapon convictions.” Its text on the webpage doesn’t mention the 157,021 included convictions for other offenses accounting for 55 percent of the total convictions.

We spotted a couple of other wrinkles.

The DPS webpage indirectly notes that a “criminal alien” isn’t necessarily someone living in the country without documentation. “Of the total criminal aliens arrested in that timeframe,” the page says, “over 160,000 or 66% were identified by DHS status as being in the U.S. illegally at the time of their last arrest.”

We noticed, too, that the DPS doesn’t specify how many of the noted arrests or convictions through criminal careers tie to the 160,000-plus people believed to be living here illegally at the time of their latest arrest.

Our ruling:

Patrick said that “566,000 crimes” were “made in Texas by criminal aliens in the last 6 years.”

We didn’t find a factual path to this figure and, in fact, spotted no state-posted information specifying a relevant count of criminal arrests or convictions for the six-plus years singled out by Patrick.

The DPS has said that more than 638,000 charges and 286,000 convictions were accumulated through their “criminal careers” by more than 240,000 “criminal aliens” booked into Texas jails in the six-plus years. Unsaid: Some of those people were living in the U.S. with legal authorization.

We find Patrick’s statement inaccurate and ridiculous. Pants on Fire!

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

After lawsuit threat, Texas agency changes voter registration policy
After lawsuit threat, Texas agency changes voter registration policy

Responding to a threatened lawsuit, the Texas Workforce Commission has agreed to offer voter registration help to Texans with disabilities who receive job training help from the agency. Disability rights advocates had accused state officials of violating the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which requires state agencies that help people with disabilities...
Man accused of pulling gun on off-duty cop in road rage incident

SOUTH AUSTIN Man accused of pulling gun on off-duty cop Authorities have accused a driver of pulling a gun on an off-duty police officer in an apparent road rage incident in South Austin, court documents say. Michael Christopher Tello, 21, was booked into the Travis County Jail on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree...
Abbott agrees to spare death row inmate’s life, heeding father’s plea
Abbott agrees to spare death row inmate’s life, heeding father’s plea

Gov. Greg Abbott agreed Thursday to spare the life of death row inmate Thomas Whitaker, announcing his decision less than an hour before the Houston-area man’s scheduled execution. Abbott sided with Whitaker’s father, who had pleaded for his son’s sentence to be commuted by saying that as the chief surviving victim of the crime that...
Judicial candidate Eldridge was accused of having sex with student, 16
Judicial candidate Eldridge was accused of having sex with student, 16

A state district judicial candidate in Travis County was accused by a 16-year-old foreign exchange student of having sex with him while he stayed in her home — an accusation that the candidate, Chantal Eldridge, denies. Eldridge, a criminal defense lawyer who is running to be judge of the 331st Criminal District Court, was investigated by Austin...
4 Democrats vie for Congress in Williamson, Bell counties
4 Democrats vie for Congress in Williamson, Bell counties

Texas’ 31st Congressional District, which encompasses most of Williamson and Bell counties, hasn’t been friendly territory for Democrats since it was created after the 2000 census. U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, was first elected in 2002 and has won re-election seven times by at least 19 percentage points. President Donald Trump won...
More Stories