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During Austin tapings of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity thrice showed figures suggesting immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission have lately been convicted of up to 75 percent of federal crimes.
In back-to-back August 2016 episodes featuring Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Hannity presented a slide listing the percentage of "illegal immigrant federal convictions" in fiscal 2015 for five crimes.
On night one, most noticeably, Hannity showed the slide at the top of his show while saying "in the last year alone, illegal immigrants" were "responsible for 18 percent of drug trafficking; 30 percent of kidnapping/hostage taking; 75 percent of drug possession; 10 percent of money laundering; 21 percent of national defense; and 5 percent of murder sentences," going on to say numerous crimes have been committed lately in Texas.
Some 30 minutes later, Hannity showed the slide again and said to Trump: "Something’s wrong."
"Yeah, it’s wrong, it’s wrong," Trump replied, "and everybody knows it’s wrong."
So, we wondered, was Hannity right about the listed crimes?
His slide referenced the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which gathers information on federal crime and sentencing issues and where Sekemia Mwonyonyi replied to our inquiry with an email showing how to reach the aired figures by clicking through commission statistics posted online. Separately, Nazgol Ghandnoosh of the Sentencing Project, which says it focuses on reforms in sentencing policy, also laid out the methodology.
As a result, we built a chart demonstrating that Hannity accurately drew his numbers from data presenting percentages of 32 federal offenses for which citizens, non-citizens and, in particular, "illegal aliens" were sentenced in fiscal 2015.
Ghandnoosh said by email that Hannity’s percentages regarding five of the federal crimes accurately tracked the commission tallies.
In general, those classified as "illegal aliens" accounted for 25,670, or 37 percent, of 70,225 individuals convicted of all federal crimes in the 12 months through September 2015. That includes 18,782 sentenced for immigration offenses.
The "illegal alien" category accounted for the following share of convictions in the crimes cited by Hannity:
• 1,640 of 2,181 total convictions (75 percent) in which the primary charge was simple drug possession.
• 13 of 43 convictions (30 percent) for kidnapping/hostage taking.
• 21 of 100 convictions (21 percent) for "national defense" crimes, which include convictions for exporting arms, munitions or military equipment without a license or providing material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations or for terrorist purposes, per a 2013 commission report.
• 3,555 of 19,989 convictions (18 percent) for drug trafficking.
• 69 of 665 convictions (10 percent of them, for money laundering.
• 5 of 91 convictions, or 5.5 percent, for murder.
Mwonyonyi noted another aspect by pointing out to us that 73 percent of all the "illegal alien" federal offenders in the year--that is, 18,782 of 25,670 individuals--were primarily sentenced for immigration violations unique to the federal government. "If you take out the immigration crimes," Mwonyonyi wrote, "you find that illegal aliens committed about 14% of all non-immigration federal crimes."
Sliced another way, the commission tallies show U.S. citizens drew 51 percent or more of all convictions across 29 offense categories including manslaughter (96 percent U.S. citizens); murder (84 percent); sexual abuse (95 percent); robbery (98 percent); drug trafficking (74 percent); bribery (93 percent); money laundering (76 percent); racketeering/extortion (87 percent); child pornography (96 percent); and burglary/breaking and entering (100 percent).
Notably too, Hannity’s chart presents percentages of unauthorized immigrants convicted of selected federal crimes--not exploring the residency statuses of the far greater number of U.S. residents prosecuted by state and local authorities. That's probably leaving out a lot of people. For instance, as of August 2016, Texas alone held some 146,800 state prison inmates. As we completed this fact check, federal prisons altogether held nearly 193,000 inmates.
Hannity's slide states that in fiscal 2015, "illegal immigrants" represented 5 percent to 75 percent of U.S. residents convicted of five federal crimes ranging from murder to simple drug possession.
Those figures accurately reflect federal data though a comprehensive picture would arguably fold in individuals convicted on similar state and local charges.
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Emails, Nazgol Ghandnoosh, research analyst, The Sentencing Project, Aug. 29, 2016
Chart showing residency status of non-U.S. citizens convicted of federal crimes in fiscal 2015, U.S. Sentencing Commission (downloaded Aug. 30, 2016)
Email, Sekemia W. Mwonyonyi, senior legislative & public affairs specialist, United States Sentencing Commission, Aug. 30, 2016
Email, Robert Hurst, public information officer, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Sept. 1, 2016
Report, "Statistical Report, Fiscal Year 2015," Texas Department of Criminal Justice, undated (accessed Sept. 1, 2016)
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