Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) appeared on Fox Business Network amid breaking news reports of a shooting at YouTube headquarters on Tuesday afternoon.
The interview occurred less than an hour after the shooting, before authorities provided any official information about the identity of the shooter. Nevertheless, the congressman immediately linked the shooting to “criminal illegal aliens.”
“You were going to talk to me about sanctuary cities and the sanctuary state movement, and it fits right into what you are talking about right now,” Rohrabacher said. “Would anyone be surprised?”
“Would anyone listening to you right now say: ‘Well, this certainly wouldn’t be an illegal immigrant,'” he continued. “It could be!”
Rohrabacher said the shooting proved that “[a]ny illegal in this state should be sent back whether he’s a criminal or not.”
His comments went unchallenged on the air.
“Congressman, you bring up an excellent point,” the Fox Business host said, before teeing up an interview with an eyewitness who helped a YouTube employee who was shot in the incident.
The idea that people who are not U.S. citizens are more likely to commit crimes is a myth. The data shows that, relative to the total population, immigrants are less likely to commit a crime that lands them in prison than the general population. As the Washington Post has previously reported:
A comparison of these figures shows that noncitizens are far underrepresented in the prison population at the state level (4 percent), overrepresented at the federal level after excluding immigration offenses (21 percent), and far below their share of the population when combining both state and federal prisons (6 percent).
But that fact — as well as the lack of any concrete facts about Tuesday’s shooting — did not stop Rohrabacher from immediately exploiting the tragedy to push his anti-immigrant agenda.