Illegal Immigration and Crime

High profile incidents like the recent arrest of a Mexican national in the horrific shooting of a young woman in San Francisco, can give off the impression that illegal immigrants are more prone to engage in criminal behavior. But the alleged killer is by no means indicative of a larger trend in the undocumented community.

To be fair, crystal clear data sets that makes the necessary statistical controls for age, sex, economic, and immigrants status to assess this topic are not as robust as desired. Yet, the evidence by no means suggest illegal immigrants are less law abiding. While there is literature expressing the concern that non-credentialed foreigners have higher than average incarceration rates and are more villainous than natural born citizens, apolitical assessments struggle to find evidence supporting these claims. Research from the FBI, the U.S. Census Report, the Cato Institute, and Northwestern University found that illegal immigrants are less prone to commit any type of crime, are more likely to report alleged crimes in their community, and cities with higher than average undocumented inhabitants have a lower overall crime rate than the national average.

You may also see a lower crime rate among undocumented workers, because they’re quite busy. Roughly 40% of illegal immigrants entered the United States legally and are now overstaying their visa primarily for white collar opportunities. Former chef and travel savant Anthony Bourdain argues that you don’t see illegal immigrants in major crimes, because they are too busy working in the service industry. Additionally, if one fears potential expulsion from America it seems they would be less likely to commit a felony.

Don’t believe me? Here’s Fox News President, Rupert Murdoch, denouncing the mythical connection between immigrants and crime. On July 12th, 2015, the Australian immigrant tweeted, “Mexican immigrants, as with all immigrants, have much lower crime rates than native born. E.g. El Paso safest city in U.S. Trump wrong.”