President Trump tries to make Americans afraid of immigrants by claiming that they are rapists and criminals and using that as the rationale for closing our borders, deporting hard-working immigrants and ending DACA to deport immigrant children is not founded on facts, immigrants commit fewer violent crimes.
Trump and Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, claim that there is an epidemic of crime in the United States brought on by immigrants, but the fact is that violent crime is at the lowest level since the 1950’s.
The undeniable truth is that both legal and illegal immigrants are far less likely to commit violent crimes than native-born Americans. Also, undeniable, is those undocumented immigrants are less likely to report a crime to the police if they fear doing so may result in their own deportation. Without the cooperation of these victims and witnesses, it stands to reason that, by reversing the immigration policies that have resulted in this dramatic decrease in crime, we will see crime skyrocket again to pre-1990’s highs.
A Low Point in American Violent Crime
A graph of homicide data from the Center for Disease Control shows the stunning decline in violence in America:
The most recent statistics show that homicides in American are at a near all-time-low. Trump and Sessions claim that the small uptick in homicides in 2015 is the result of undocumented immigrants when there is no evidence to support that claim. When you look at this chart, you can plainly see that there was no substantial increase in violent crime across the United States. When you consider that some of the lowest violent crime numbers directly coincide with periods of high immigration (documented or not), the argument that immigrants lead to more crime is just blown out of the water.
Facts are Facts, Immigrants Commit Fewer Violent Crimes
The consensus amount those who study immigration agree, immigrants commit fewer violent crimes than native-born United States Citizens. The findings of virtually all academic studies on immigration attribute the huge decline in violent crime in the 1990’s to increased immigration during those years. For example, in the 1980’s, San Diego and Los Angeles were mired in ugly gang violence, but as immigration enforcement became laxer, the levels of violent crime fell as immigrants poured into the area.
The fact is that most of the academic studies point to unemployment and economy as much bigger factors in violent crime than immigration.
What About the High Percentage of Immigrants in Federal Prison?
You will hear Trump refer to the high percentage of immigrants in federal prison in support of his argument that immigrants are criminals. However, when you consider that most of the federal prosecutions involve charges related to illegal entry and illegal re-entry, it makes sense that a percentage of federal prisoners would be immigrants. The most recent statistics show that 22% of federal inmates are non-citizens. 80% of those inmates were convicted for illegal entry, not violent crimes. So, this is further evidence that immigrants do not increase violent crime in America.
A Little-Known way that Immigration Reduces Violent Crime
Trump never talks about the positive influences immigrants have in America and specifically, violent crimes. A study of 3,000 young Hispanics revealed that the benefits of immigration on crime go beyond immigrants themselves. This study showed that immigrants had a positive impact on their non-immigrant peers. They reduced violent crimes in their peer groups by as much as 50% simply be being good influences. Study after study has shown that immigrants have a much lower rate of anti-social behavior, lower incidents of juvenile delinquency and lower rates of substance abuse.
Increased Deportation and Immigration Enforcement Could Result in Higher Crime Rates
Logic dictates that, if immigration reduces crime, increased immigration would result in even lower rates of violent crime in America. Trump, however, blames most violent crime on immigrants despite the facts. It stands to reason then, if Trump has his way with immigration, deporting possibly millions of immigrants, violent crime will explode.
President Obama’s increased immigration enforcement actions called “Secure Communities” program detained more than 250,000 immigrants with criminal records. Studies of this program and so-called, “bad immigrants” showed that the removal of more than some quarter-million immigrants had no effect on the rates of violent crime. How much more proof do you need Mr. Trump?
DACA Down, Crime Up
To truly make America great again, President Trump should call for increased immigration and amnesty for those who are here illegally like the Reagan amnesty of 1986. In fact, a study of the 1986 amnesty revealed a major drop in violent crime over the subsequent years. Thus, it appears that amnesty itself contributed to the drop in violent crime during the 1990’s.
Researchers attributed the fall in crime following amnesty to be able to work legally. Of course, DACA’s primary goal is to give young immigrants the ability to work legally in the United States. It is highly unlikely DACA recipients would return to their birth countries if DACA is ended. So, it is not a big jump to project that taking away DACA’s ability to work will result in an increase in violent crime in America.
Perhaps instead of ending DACA, Trump will find the wisdom to find a path to citizenship for the Dreamers. But, until and unless DACA becomes permanent, Dreamers face the reality that, any day, it could end, and they may face deportation. Waiting to see what will happen is not a good idea. You need a plan in place in case your DACA status is suddenly ended. You may be surprised to find out that you already qualify for legal status under a different immigration law. That is why you should use our “Do You Qualify for Legal Status” tool or just give us a call for a free consultation with a New Jersey immigration attorney.