Immigration and Crime: Donald Trump is wrong

Donald Trump has been making many anti-immigrant statements since he started running for President.  One of the most well known is his statement that “When Mexico sends it people, they are not sending their best.  They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing  crime. They’re rapists”.

It turns out that it is a long tradition in America to associate crime with immigrants. The word “paddy wagon” is used now to describe the van that takes criminals to prison.  But the word refers to Irish immigrants, who were called “Paddy” and were thought to be highly likely to be criminals.  Italians were also stereotyped as belonging to the mafia.  But it turns out that immigrants from Ireland and Italy were less likely to be criminals than native born Americans.  And the same is true for Mexicans, and all immigrants to the US today.  Even though Americans have assumed that immigrants are more likely to be criminals than natives, it turns out immigrants actually lower the crime rate!

In fact a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “the major finding of a century of research on crime is that immigrants…nearly always exhibit lower crime rates than native groups”.

You can see from the graph below that 10.7% of native born men  without a high school diploma age 18-39 in 2010 were in prison, compared to only 2.8% of Mexican men

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While the immigration rate has been going up recently, the crime rate has been going down. These graphs show how the number of immigrants has been going up at the same time the number of crimes has been going down:


Even when Donald Trump concentrates on illegal immigrants, he is wrong. Illegal immigrants do get arrested for violating immigration laws.  And many of them are getting deported when they are caught. But researchers have found no relationship between illegal immigrants and crime, when they don’t count immigration violations.  In 2013 the US deported 438, 421 people.  Even among these people who were being deported for being criminals  31.3% had broken immigration laws, 15% had traffic violations, and the percentage who had committed sexual assault was 1.6%.  So Trump is wrong in calling immigrants rapists.  Maybe the worst he could say is that 15% of them are bad drivers!  The facts are that immigrants are helping to lower American crime rates.  We should be thanking them instead of insulting them.





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