On June 15, 2015, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States, and in the process, infuriated many with his statements on immigrants. In particular, Trump stated, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.]
A new report from the American Immigration Council, “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States,” however, says otherwise. In a gist, it finds that immigration is associated with lower crime rates, and immigrants are less likely than native-born U.S. citizens to be serious criminals.
Between 1990 and 2013:
- The foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million
- During the same period, FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48 percent — which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41 percent, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery and burglary.
Crime indeed dropped over the last couple of decades, as immigration increased significantly. One might think that perhaps the reason is because illegal immigrants are being incarcerated and thus make up a large portion of the incarcerated population. Data from a survey of the authors of the same report shows otherwise:
- Incarceration rates among the young, less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran and Guatemalan men who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population are significantly lower than the incarceration rate among native-born young men without a high-school diploma. In 2010, less-educated native-born men age 18-39 had an incarceration rate of 10.7 percent — more than triple the 2.8 percent rate among foreign-born Mexican men, and five times greater than the 1.7 percent rate among foreign-born Salvadoran and Guatemalan men.
- Roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born. This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades …
Mr. Trump’s comments were misleading and uninformed. Most economists agree that immigration brings positive effects to the economy, and the studies clearly show that immigrants cannot be thrown under the umbrella of “criminals.” It is important to consider the context of such statements, and to remember that one person does not define a whole population.
“It is long past time for U.S. immigration policies to accurately reflect the diversity and complexity of immigration to this country, based not on a reflexive politics of fear and myth, but on sound analysis and empirical evidence.” – from The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States.
Links to reports and more info: