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Pete Sessions’ ‘murders every day’ claim about immigrants released by Obama
By W. Gardner Selby March 5, 2015

At a Feb. 26, 2015, committee hearing, U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, said: "Every day, all along border states, maybe other places, there are murders by people who have been arrested coming into this country, who have been released by the Obama administration, I believe in violation of the law, who are murdering Americans all over our cities."

Sessions went on: "We hold the Democrat Party and the president personally accountable for this action."

Red flag?

Yes--perhaps in the vein of factually unsupported declarations last summer by then-Gov. Rick Perry and Greg Abbott, the Republican on his way to succeeding Perry as the state’s elected ceo.

Last July, Perry and then Abbott each said 3,000 homicides had been committed by people crossing the Texas-Mexico border over recent years.

Pants on Fire, we twice concluded.

Perry, speaking July 17, 2014, to commentator Glenn Beck, was expressing concern about the security of the Texas-Mexico border and said "the number of illegal activities up to and including homicides--I think over 3,000 homicides by illegal aliens over the course of the last six years; that’s unacceptable and that’s the reason that we have to secure that border."

Five days later, Abbott told Greta Van Susteren of Fox News that some of the "worst of the worst" criminals are coming across the Rio Grande. "We’ve had women and children in the state of Texas who have been sexually assaulted by the people who have come across the border. We’ve had about 3,000 murders," Abbott said.

Both leaders said his statement relied on data posted online by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which at the time also posted the pie chart we’re re-sharing below:

Source: Web page, "Texas Criminal Alien Arrest Data," Texas Department of Public Safety (accessed July 21, 2014 and no longer existent March 5, 2015)

We say "at the time," because the web page no longer exists, as the Post story noted.

Also at the time, the agency said: "From October 2008 through July 1, 2014, Texas has identified a total of 203,685 unique criminal alien defendants booked into Texas county jails. Over their criminal careers, these defendants are responsible for at least 642,564 individual criminal charges mostly consisting of Class B misdemeanors or higher, including 3,070 homicides and 7,964 sexual assaults," the agency said.

That turned out not to support what Perry and Abbott subsequently said, criminologists agreed.

Michael Walker, an adjunct John Jay professor and an expert in how the FBI gathers crime statistics, said Perry’s statement to Beck potentially would suggest 3,070, or 46 percent, of the estimated homicides were committed by "illegal aliens." But, he said, "that makes no sense." He said in a follow-up email: "It just boggles the imagination that level of ‘aliens’ were involved to that extent over time and nobody noticed."

Now, according to the Post’s check of Session, the DPS

"has overhauled the crime data to track immigration status dating from June 2011. ‘We reprogrammed our own criminal records system to identify the DHS immigration status code on all the available historical responses and all hits responses going forward,’ said spokesman Tom Vinger. This resulted in a dramatic reduction in the numbers, because of a short time frame and confirmed immigration status.

"Thus, over a 43-month period, 795 aliens were accused of homicide, and 336 were convicted. Of the charges, Vinger said 561 (71 percent) are attributed to foreign nationals illegally in the country and 234 (29 percent) are attributed to legally present foreign nationals. A breakdown of actual convictions was not immediately available, but assuming the same percentage, that would mean 239 illegal aliens were convicted of murder over a 43-month period."

Upshot: It still doesn’t look factually so that unauthorized immigrants committed over 3,000 murders.

The Fact Checker gave Sessions' murder-every-day statement four Pinnochio’s. According to the Post, Sessions’ office did not offer data to back up his claim.

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Pete Sessions’ ‘murders every day’ claim about immigrants released by Obama