Good piece in the Des Moines Register last week, once again making the case that illegal immigration does not lead to more crime. This is not a new debate, but it is interesting to see it carried out in Iowa rather than California for once.
Alex Piquero, a Professor of Criminology and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, makes the case.
He points out that “this is a commentary on what the data and research tell us about immigrants, immigration, and crime. Here’s the punch line: there is no ‘there there.’”
The data parsed over years of research – from different sources of data including self-reports, arrests and convictions, at different levels of analysis, from individuals, city and staff, and conducted in different time periods by different authors – “continues to show the exact same finding: Immigrants do not commit crime at higher rates than native-born Americans, and more immigration, in the aggregate, does not lead to more crime. Period.”
He noted that some will continue to bypass this data analysis and conclude that “well it’s illegal immigration” or “undocumented immigrants” “that we’re worried about and point to Mollie Tibbetts’ death as an example of a failed immigration or border system. In his essay, Trump insists for more correct reporting on illegal alien crime.”
What do the studies tell us? The bottom line: “Illegal immigration does not increase (violent) crime.” Mr. Piquero points out:
- As reported by NPR in May, four scientific studies, including one that I was part of, provide no evidence linking illegal immigration to crime.
- This is the case from research completed at the national level over a three-decade time period by University of Wisconsin sociologist Michael Light.
- It also includes research by the Cato Institute comparing conviction and arrest rates in Texas.
- And it includes my own co-authored research published in Migration Letters showing that young undocumented immigrants self-reported committing less crime than either their legal immigrant or U.S.-born peers.
Professor Piquero concludes: “This is what the science tells us and more research may continue to tell us the same thing or may yield different conclusions. Yet, for now we need to follow what the data say. Yes, data are pesky.”
He adds: “The debate about immigration and crime tends to be one informed more by opinion than data when it should be the other way around.”
This undoubtedly will not resolve the issue, but it really should.
There are those who want to argue the perpetrator should never have been allowed in the US in the first place and, if we had enforced our immigration rules, he would not have. Maybe. And a key point is maybe. The assumption is that he would not have been in the US, but we don’t actually know that. Maybe under different rules he would have been in the US anyway, legally.
We can play this “what if” game all day.
Here is another one. A man commits a relatively low level offense. Instead of being sent to prison, he gets probation. While on probation, he commits a serious felony (having never committed a violent felony before) and someone dies.
So is the fault in the system that allowed him out – rightly for having a low level offense – just because a low probability event occurred and he committed a murder?
Murders unfortunately happen all the time. Undocumented immigrants don’t happen to commit them at a higher rate than the general population.
I think this is a case where the problem is not in our stars, it’s in ourselves.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
Come to our event to hear Matt Gonzalez, a SF Public Defender, talk about a case similar to the Mollie Tibbetts case. Mr. Gonzalez represents Jose Garcia Zarate, accused of shooting Kate Steinle in San Francisco.