March 12, 2017
President Trump has made crime a big part of his immigration enforcement campaign, last month unveiling a new immigration-crime victims unit at the Justice Department. We understand the emotive political appeal, but the federal government doesn’t need a new bureaucracy given the facts about immigrant crime.
Mr. Trump highlighted the murder victims of undocumented immigrants “whose government failed them.” He’s right about that, and it’s exasperating that foreign criminals are released onto the streets only to perpetrate more violence. But there’s no evidence that immigrants commit more crimes than do native-born citizens and some to suggest they commit less.
In a newly published paper, researchers at the University at Buffalo and University of Alabama examined 200 metropolitan areas between 1970 and 2010. They found that murder, robbery, burglary and larceny rates decreased as immigration increased. A recent meta-analysis of 50 studies published between 1994 and 2014 concluded that cities with larger immigrant populations have lower crime rates.
Copious research also indicates that immigrants are less crime-prone than native-born Americans. A 2012 study observed that “foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their lifetime,” though the second generation “caught up” to their native-born counterparts.
A 2005 analysis of 180 Chicago neighborhoods between 1995 and 2002 found that first-generation immigrants demonstrated significantly lower rates of violence than blacks and whites and that their “odds of violence are almost half those of third-generation immigrants.” At least on crime, immigrant families are assimilating too much.
The Chicago study (and some others) discovered a robust link between “concentrated immigration” and lower crime. So whites and blacks who live in communities with more immigrants are less likely to experience crime. Researchers suggest that immigrants may be less criminal because they have strong family bonds and work ethic, which is underscored by their higher labor participation rate. Immigrants washing dishes probably aren’t committing crimes in their down time.
The anecdotes Mr. Trump cites result mainly from failures in federal and local law enforcement as well as overreaching court rulings. Between 2013 and 2015, about 8,000 convicted criminals were released as a result of the Supreme Court’s Zadvydas v. Davis in 2001 that prohibited Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from indefinitely detaining immigrants.
Federal courts have also ruled that detention orders are not mandatory, and local governments can refuse to enforce them. Municipalities have even been sued for not releasing immigrants on bond. Foreign governments are often uncooperative, and the State Department could stop issuing visas to countries that don’t repatriate their criminals.
Local governments have also resisted cooperation when they believe ICE is indiscriminately rounding up undocumented immigrants. Notably, local cooperation increased when the Obama Administration prioritized removing criminal immigrants. Former ICE director Sarah Saldana told Congress last year that “more than half of previously uncooperative jurisdictions are now cooperating.”
This evidence suggests that the Trump Administration would better protect Americans by focusing on immigrants who commit serious crimes, not anyone here on an illegal document. Trying to round up everyone, or creating a needless bureaucracy, will mean fewer resources for deporting dangerous criminals.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com