Monday, October 24, 2016

Actually, illegal immigrants bring down the crime rate.

Anti-immigration rhetoric has been a staple of the Donald Trump presidential campaign. He has pledged to build a wall across the southern border with Mexico, has said he would ban all Muslim immigration, and has called Mexican immigrants rapist and drug dealers.

When he declared his presidency he said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you." "They’re not sending you,” he said as he pointed toward members of the audience at his June 16th speech announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president from Trump Tower. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

First of all, of course, Mexico is not sending anyone.  Individual Mexicans are coming to America; not being sent. While there are Mexican immigrants who commit rape and murderer and various other crimes. the truth is that immigrants to the U.S., legal or illegal, are less likely than native born Americans  to commit violent crimes or be incarcerated. Actually illegal immigrants bring down the crime rate.

People have a perception that illegal immigrants create more crime because when an illegal immigrant does commit an especially grievous crime it is highly publicized.  What data is available simply does not support that perception. The data is often incomplete and open to interpretation but the impact on crime of illegal immigrants is minimal. Of course, low income people in general commit more violent crime than middle income and upper income people, and young adults commit more crime than older adults, and men commit more crime than women.  Illegal immigrants tend to be made up of low income people, more younger adults than older adults, and somewhat more men than women.  Despite illegal immigrants being comprised of the demographics that are more crime prone, still the evidence does not show that immigrants commit crime at a higher rate.

There is an old saying that "figures don't lie, but liars can figure," and if one wants to find articles that substantiate the claim that immigrants commit crime at a greater rate than native citizens one can find it.  There are conflicting studies. Many of the studies that do reach a conclusion that illegal immigrants commit crime at a higher rate, compare apples to oranges and the data is cherry picked and the studies are seriously flawed. Some studies include statutory violations such as violating immigration laws, or driving under the influences, or driving without a license, or simple possession of marijuana. If these misdemeanor offense are included, then there may be a higher rate of crime.  Most people when thinking of crime rates are not thinking of minor misdemeanor offenses.

Studies that examine serious crime, felonies such as rape or murder, show illegal immigrants are less crime prone than citizens. Looking into this, I read a lot of news articles and studies trying to determine the truth. You can find conflicting studies, but one of the best studies that explained the methodologies of the studies and explained the data was that by The Cato Institute. Cato found, "with few exceptions, immigrants are less crime prone than natives or have no effect on crime rates." 

For more on the issue, in addition to the Cato study highlighted above, I suggest the following:
The Mythical Connection Between Immigrants and Crime WSJ  
Illegal Immigration Might Actually Reduce Crime Rates  Pacific Standard  
Debunking the Myth of Immigrant Criminality: Imprisonment Among First- and Second-Generation Young Men   Migration Policy Institute
Does Crime Drop When Immigrants Move In?  NPR 
 Criminal Immigrants? Reason

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