Excerpt - "VIEWPOINT: Popular myths about immigrants are false"
July 12, 2008
... Do immigrants bring crime? Polls show that about three out of four Americans believe that immigrants, especially those in the country illegally, increase the crime rate. President Bush has promoted this view, for example in a speech in May 2006, when he claimed ominously that “illegal immigrants live in the shadows of our society...Illegal immigration brings crime to our communities.”
Fortunately, we don’t have to guess about immigrants and crime. Crime rates are available in Department of Justice (DOJ) statistics that show the number of people incarcerated in local, state and federal prisons and jails.
The DOJ numbers are clear: Immigrants have a much lower rate of crime than native-born citizens. This general trend holds for every subgroup in the population (divided by age, sex, level of education, and national origin).
For example, among males 18-39 (the most at-risk group), native-born citizens have five times the incarceration rate of foreign-born immigrants. Native-born white males have almost two times the incarceration rate of foreign-born Hispanic males, who make up the bulk of illegal immigrants.
Also, for every subgroup, the crime rate increases as they remain longer in the U.S. and become more Americanized, although even immigrants in the U.S. for more than 16 years still have a much lower incarceration rate than native-born citizens.
Of 38 million current residents born outside the United States, about 12 million are in the country illegally. Although recent years have shown an increase in illegal immigration, according to the FBI since 1994 the overall violent crime rate has decreased by about a third. A reasonable conclusion is that immigration has contributed to this drop in crime, and restricting immigration would lead to an increase in the overall crime rate. ...