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Immigration & crimeU.S. crime rates declined in period of high immigration: Reports

Published 20 March 2017

The number of immigrants in the United States has risen from 3.5 million in 1990 to 11.1 million in 2014, but two new studies show that an increased number of immigrants in the country might have been associated with a historic decline in crime rates. The studies – Immigration and Public Safety from the Sentencing Project and Criminal Immigrants Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin from the CATO Institute — also shows that immigrants are less likely than U.S.-born citizens to commit crimes and be imprisoned.

Study: High immigration numbres do not influence crime rates // Source: theconversation.com

The number of immigrants in the United States has risen from 3.5 million in 1990 to 11.1 million in 2014, but two new studies show that an increased number of immigrants in the country might have been associated with a historic decline in crime rates. Newsmax reports that the studies – Immigration and Public Safety from the Sentencing Project and Criminal Immigrants Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin from the CATO Institute — also show that immigrants are less likely than U.S.-born citizens to commit crimes and be imprisoned. 

The studies raise questions aboutPresident Donald Trump’s assertions that immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants, are more likely to commit violent crimes.

One of Trump’s executive order instructs DHS to publish a weekly list of “criminal actions committed by aliens.”

The report from the Sentencing Project suggests that the increase in the number of immigrants may have contributed to “an historic drop in crime rates” in that time. 

The report found there were 730 violent crimes per 100,000 citizens 27 years ago, compared to 362 crimes per 100,000 citizens in 2014. The report’s authors note that their report “is not definitive in proving causation,” but they did conclude that “foreign-born residents of the United States commit crime less often than native-born citizens.”

Foreign-born residents of the United States commit crime less often than native-born citizens,” the Sentencing Project says. “Policies that further restrict immigration are therefore not effective crime-control strategies. These facts — supported by over 100 years of research – have been misrepresented both historically and in recent political debates.”

The Cato report supports the conclusions of the report by the Sentencing Project. The Cato study looked at how many people were in prison by immigration status, ethnicity, and gender, and found that “all immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives relative to their shares of the population.”

Illegal immigrants are 44 percent less likely to be incarcerated than natives,” the Cato report says. “Legal immigrants are 69 percent less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Legal and illegal immigrants are underrepresented in the incarcerated population while natives are overrepresented.”

The Cato study found that there are about 2 million U.S.-born citizens, 123,000 undocumented immigrants, and 64,000 documented foreign citizens in U.S. jails. 

If natural-born citizens were incarcerated at the same rate as undocumented immigrants, there would be about 893,000 fewer U.S.-born citizens in prison, the Cato study found.

If natural-born citizens were incarcerated at the same rate as documented immigrants in prison, there would be 1.4 million fewer U.S.-born citizens in prison.

The Independent notes that research from the American Immigration Council, a pro-immigration advocacy group, found that immigrants in the United States were significantly less likely than native-born citizens to be imprisoned.

In 2007, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that immigrants were five times less likely to be incarcerated than native-born U.S. citizens, and the likelihood decreased even further between 1980 and 2000.

Newsmax notes that Democrats opposing Trump’s budget and immigration orders are likely to use the information contained in the two reports in their arguments.

— Read more in Nazgol Ghandnoosh and Josh Rovner, Immigration and Public Safety (Sentencing Project, 16 March 2017); Michelangelo Landgrave and Alex Nowrasteh, Criminal Immigrants Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin (CATO Institute, 15 March 2017)