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Fact Check Update: is Lewiston, Maine Crime-Ridden since the 2001 arrival of Somali Immigrants?

Since I’ve moved to Maine, I’ve encountered a lot of friendly people, but I’ve also heard many derogatory comments about the supposed criminality of Somali immigrants who began arriving in Lewiston, Maine in the year 2001. Last year, I decided to check the claim that Somalis had brought crime to Lewiston against the observed crime rate of the city collected in the FBI’s annual Crime in the United States report. Results, available through the year 2011 then, indicated that since Somali immigrants came to Lewiston, the crime rate had gone down, not up.

A year has passed since then, and crime data for Lewiston is now available through 2012. In the meantime, anti-immigrant hysteria is resurgent as border-state politicians see massing immigrant hordes in a bus of YMCA campers and imagine that immigrants from Central America will somehow infect the U.S. with ebola.

What do the new statistics on crime in Lewiston, Maine show? See for yourself:

Is Lewiston more violent since Somali immigrants came to town?  Violent Crime Rate in Lewiston, Maine from 1985 to 2012

Are thefts up since Somali refugees arrived in Lewiston, Maine?  Fact check the hype with this graph of UCR property crime rates from 1985-2012


As you can see, both violent crime rates and property crime rates are lower on average since Somali immigrants came to Lewiston. The notion that Somali immigrants have plunged pleasant Lewiston, Maine into the sordid depths of criminality is contradicted by observable fact. The whisper campaign against Lewiston’s Somali-Americans is based in myth, perpetuated by ignorance and fear. Fear is surprisingly resistant to change, but ignorance is curable. If you live in Maine, you can help with the cure; the next time someone talks about “those” Somalis and “their” criminal ways, respond with the facts.

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