Immigrants Not More Likely to be Criminals

Trump's demand that "sanctuary cities" publish lists of crimes committed by undocumented is undaunted by far higher criminality of people born here.


In President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and sanctuary cities, he calls for a weekly report on the crimes committed by immigrants in protected cities. However, data does not support his narrative that immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.  

According to the order, "the [secretary of homeland security] shall utilize the Declined Detainer Outcome Report or its equivalent and, on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens."

But the data to support Trump's desire to paint undocumented immigrants as being dangerous or more likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans does not exist.

A 2015 study by the American Immigration Council found that not only are immigrants less likely to commit serious crimes or be incarcerated than native-born residents, but high rates of immigration correlate with even lower rates of violent and property crimes. 

According to the report, "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, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses," the authors note. "In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants."

In fact, as the immigrant population has increased over the years, rates of violent crime have decreased. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of undocumented immigrants went 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," the study states. "Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41 percent."

The pattern held true over a period of time and spanned cities nationally — particularly in cities that have been welcoming to the immigrant population.

"Some scholars suggest that new immigrants may revitalize dilapidated urban areas, ultimately reducing violent crime rates," the researchers state.

"In other words, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not 'criminal' by any commonly accepted definition of the term," the researchers sum up. "For this reason, harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime."

Conservative outlets have pointed to data indicating otherwise, including Breitbart, which in 2015 ran an article with the headline, "Illegal Immigrants Accounted for Nearly 37 Percent of Federal Sentences in FY 2014." The article points to federal crime data, which showed that undocumented immigrants accounted for 36.7 percent of those involved in federal sentences.

Data collected between October 2015 and September 2016 produced similar results, at which time noncitizens accounted for 41.7 percent of all federal offenders and committed 22.9 percent of murders.

However, federal crimes only account for a small sample of all crimes. In total, just 66,778 crimes were analyzed — and 83 murders. The FBI's "Crime in the United States, 2015," in contrast, reported a total of 15,696 murders during 2015. Therefore, the federal data accounts for about 0.53 percent of the total.

Additionally, "undocumented immigrants are far more likely to be caught up in the federal court system because of non-violent immigration violations" — leaving for skewed data when looking for a national pattern.

In a 2015 interview Jessica Vaughn with the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative organization with a strict viewpoint on immigration, said that definitive data is hard to conclude, saying "what the research shows is that there's no evidence that immigrants are either more or less likely to commit crimes than anyone else in the population.

"The studies that claim to find that immigrants are somehow more law-abiding than Americans are based on very flawed data, because that doesn't identify correctly necessarily what someone's immigration status is," she added.

But in some cases, the data to prove Trump's points simply does not exist. While on the campaign trail, Trump said, without providing evidence, "Thousands of Americans have been killed by illegal immigrants." His statement was analyzed by Politifact:

"Immigration experts told us Trump's statement is so vague it is bound to be true.

"Without time or geographic parameters, the statement is just as accurate as saying 'thousands of Americans have been killed by men,' said Charis E. Kubrin, a criminology professor at University of California, Irvine.

"'The rate of murder may be lower or higher than other groups, but when we are talking about people, violent crime is never zero,' said Steven Camarota, director of research at Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank favoring strict immigration policies. 'By the same token it cannot be thousands every year. But adding up a few years then it has to be in the 'thousands.' There are a lot of murders in America and there are a lot illegal immigrants, so the statement has to be true.'"

Marc Rosenblum, from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, pointed to the same conclusion that the American Immigration Council reached in its report.

"You know, it's a very persistent stereotype, but there's a lot of research on it, looking at prison populations and looking at city crime rates," Rosenblum said. "And what it shows is that immigrants are disproportionately unlikely to be in prison. The prison population doesn't have a lot of immigrants in it. And when you look at crime rates and correlate them with immigration populations, immigrants are — cities with lots of immigrants don't have lots of crime."

Trump's knowledge on immigration in general does not align with national data. In another executive order the president referred to a "recent surge of illegal immigration at the southern border with Mexico."

However, the number of Mexican immigrants has been declining — down almost 10 percent between 2009 and 2014 — with immigrants from Asia and sub-Saharan Africa on the rise, according to the Pew Research Center's most recent estimates. In November, Pew estimated there were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2014, accounting for 3.5 percent of the population, down from 12.2 million in 2007. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 1.3 million are from Asia.

CNN's Don Lemon Calls Out Trump for Silence on Waffle House Shooting

Trump has not talked or tweeted about the people of color killed or the bravery of a Black man.

In the early hours of Sunday morning at a Waffle House near Nashville, a white, male domestic terrorist killed four people of color and was stopped by a Black man from killing many more. Apparently that's the type of scenario President Donald Trump and his administration choose to ignore, and Don Lemon blasted Trump for his silence.

Read More Show Less

Supreme Court Weighs Legality of Trump's Muslim Ban

Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the liberal justices in asking U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco sharp questions about the ban and Trump's motivation for enacting it.


(Reuters) — President Donald Trump's administration went before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to defend the legality of his Muslim ban, one of the most contentious actions of his presidency.

Read More Show Less

Trump's Muslim Ban Faces U.S. Supreme Court Showdown

The high court has never decided the legal merits of the Muslim ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for Dreamers.


(Reuters) — The first big showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court over President Donald Trump's immigration policies is set for Wednesday when the justices hear a challenge to the lawfulness of his Muslim ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.

Read More Show Less

Appeals Court Rules Against U.S. on Funds for Sanctuary Cities

The lawsuit contended that Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III exceeded his authority by imposing new conditions beyond those Congress prescribed when it established the grant program.


(Reuters) — A federal appeals court on Thursday said the U.S. Justice Department cannot deny public safety grants to so-called sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration.

Read More Show Less

Push for 'Dreamer' Immigration Bill Gains Steam in House

Backers said they had 240 House members on board so far pushing for debate of four different bills to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.


(Reuters) — A bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday urged Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule debate on bills to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation, in a move aimed at reviving a push that sputtered in the Senate in February.

Read More Show Less

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Pushes DACA Bill

For years, Republicans have been deeply divided on immigration legislation, despite polling that shows a significant majority of voters want to help young immigrants who crossed into the United States illegally through no fault of their own.


(Reuters) — Pressure grew in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday to debate legislation protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation, in a challenge to President Donald Trump, who has declared as "dead" an existing program allowing them to legally study and work in the United States.

Read More Show Less

California Not Taking Part in Enhanced Border Security Operation

Robert Salesses, a deputy assistant secretary at the Defense Department, said at a media briefing that California has declined a request to commit more than 200 troops to the effort.


(Reuters) — The state of California has opted not to take part in the Trump administration's effort to send National Guard troops to the country's southern border with Mexico, a Defense Department official said on Monday.

Read More Show Less