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Fears of a migrant crime wave are growing in NYC, but actual evidence is scant

Josephine Stratman, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK — The drumbeat of anti-migrant sentiment has been growing in New York for months.

Neighbors of a shelter at Floyd Bennett Field, located in conservative southern Brooklyn, have been complaining about escalating crime and shoplifting. Republican Mazzi Pillip has been hammering her Democratic rival Tom Suozzi with ads evoking the dangers of migrants. During a live broadcast on FOX News, Curtis Sliwa’s Guardian Angels took down a “migrant” who was supposedly shoplifting, neither of which turned out to be true.

Sliwa, calling the man a shoplifter, told the camera: “They’ve taken over.”

Then on Friday, a 15-year-old migrant from Venezuela was arrested by the New York City Police Department after an overnight manhunt for allegedly shooting a foreign tourist inside a Times Square clothing store — he was aiming for a security guard who caught him and his friends shoplifting, police said — and taking shots at a pursuing cop as he fled the scene.

The fears — or conservative talking points — have been bolstered by two recent high-profile episodes. Two police officers were beaten outside a migrant shelter near Times Square, touching off outrage across the city. Days later, a cellphone robbery ring orchestrated by a handful of recent migrants was busted. The episodes sparked GOP calls for the deportation of migrants who’ve committed crimes and for the revocation of New York City’s sanctuary city status.

But is a “migrant crime wave” really taking hold of New York City?


Nothing in the data, at this point, suggests any broad-based or wide-scale increases in crime is being driven by the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants in New York City.

“A few high-profile incidents don’t make a crime wave,” Christopher Herrmann, a professor of criminology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “I feel like it’s more migrant crime wave by media as opposed to a migrant crime wave in reality.”

Mayor Eric Adams, who has said he would entertain the possibility of working more closely with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if the City Council dialed back some of New York’s sanctuary protections, noted during a press conference on the arrests in the cellphone robbery ring that “the overwhelming number of 170‑plus thousand migrants and asylum seekers are attempting to continue their next leg of their journey of pursuing the American dream,” and that a “small number of people are breaking the law.”

NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban suggested a broader problem when, at the same event, he said, “a wave of migrant crime has washed over our city. ”


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