Are Immigrants More Prone to Crime?

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A cornerstone of the argument against immigration is the propensity those immigrants have to commit crimes. As more and more people cross into the nation, legally and illegally, we are, arguably, seeing our crime rates steadily rise. There are many who want us to nearly close our borders to stop this influx of criminally inclined people into our communities and, listening to their reasoning, it is not hard to see their points. There is just one little hitch in all of this argument, however. Recent reports suggest that immigrants are actually less prone, not more prone, to commit crimes.

Multiple studies examining the relationship between crime and immigration find arrest rates as high as five times higher for people born in America than those who immigrated here. One report found that in the seventeen years following 1990, when nearly four million people immigrated to California, around 33% of which were not documented, the rates of violent crime in the state declined by over half.

There are some studies that suggest property crime may be more directly related to levels of immigration. In many of these studies, changes in immigrant population was compared with crime rates and some correlations were suggested, though violent crime seemed to remain independent.

It is important to realize that none of these studies constitute definitive proof of anything. They can only guide our understanding of the issues. If we wish to understand what is contributing to the issues we face, we have to first avoid assumptions and leave room for what we do not yet know.