Study Reveals Undocumented Immigrants Do Not Increase Crime in the US

Maria Perez SAVE THIS
A group of Central American migrants surrenders to U.S. Border Patrol Agents south of the U.S.-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Undocumented immigration is not linked to more crime in the US, despite what President Donald Trump has claimed, a new study found.

The study was conducted by The Marshall Project and The New York Times’ The Upshot and released on May 13. It compared recently released undocumented population estimates sorted by metro areas from the Pew Research Center to local crime rates published by the FBI. Between 2007 and 2016, violent and property crimes decreased in a significant majority of metro areas with more undocumented immigration.

“A large majority of the areas recorded decreases in both violent and property crime between 2007 and 2016, consistent with a quarter-century decline in crime across the United States. The analysis found that crime went down at similar rates regardless of whether the undocumented population rose or fell,” the two publications wrote.

The study also broke crime into different categories like assaults, burglaries, and larcenies, and found that undocumented immigrants had “little or no effect on crime.” Murder was the only crime that appeared to increase, but noted in the study that “the difference was small and uncertain (effectively zero).”

“Dividing violent and property crime into their components of aggravated assault, robbery, murder, burglary and larceny again fails to show a connection to undocumented populations between 2007 and 2016,” the researchers wrote.

The new study disproves President Trump’s statement that undocumented immigrants cause crime. He first made this point when he announced his candidacy for president in June 2015.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. 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,” Trump said during his presidential bid, according to a transcript of his speech from the Washington Post.

Last year, a study from the Cato Institute found that “immigrants do not increase local crime rates and that they are less likely to cause crime.” Immigrants are also more unlikely to be placed in jail than people who are American citizens, according to the study.  

The Trump administration has cracked down on immigration. On May 6, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced a new program called the Warrant Service Officer (WSO) program, which would give local law enforcement the authority to temporarily arrest and detain immigrants. The program would allow local law enforcement agencies to supersede local or state laws that prevent them from complying with ICE.

“Policies that limit cooperation with ICE undermine public safety, prevent the agency from executing its federally mandated mission and increase the risks for officers forced to make at-large arrests in unsecure locations,” acting ICE Director Matthew Albence said in the statement. “The WSO program will protect communities from criminal aliens who threaten vulnerable populations with violence, drugs, and gang activity by allowing partner jurisdictions the flexibility to make immigration arrests in their jail or correctional facility.”

Vox’s Alexia Fernández Campbell wrote that undocumented immigrants contribute billions of dollars in federal, state, and local taxes each year. The same story noted that undocumented workers’ “income taxes and payroll tax dollars are keeping Social Security and Medicare solvent.”

 


About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.

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