Immigration: The Unknown Data

If undocumented immigrants really are committing violent crimes and burdening law enforcement like Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck alleges, there doesn’t appear to be any hard evidence to back it up.

Last week Buck held a town forum in Greeley, Colorado called “Illegal Immigration: The Untold Stories,” with the purpose of hearing from residents “victimized by criminals who never should have been in this country,” according to an event flyer.

But the records division of the Greeley Police Department (GPD) has confirmed that it’s not possible to know how many violent crimes have been committed by undocumented immigrants in the area.When news first broke about the panel discussion on immigrant crime, Colorado Confidential filed an open records request with the GPD, seeking to know exactly how many violent offenses were being committed by the undocumented in relation to those with papers.

The GPD records division then responded that no such data is available, adding to testimony from police chief Jerry Garner in a Rocky Mountain News column saying that “we honest-to-God don’t know who and what percentage of criminals in Greeley are illegal.”

While Greeley residents heard testimony regarding illegal immigrants, the fact still remains that there is nothing to prove that the undocumented commit more violent crimes than citizens, and how such offenses are affecting law enforcement.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at

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