Donald Trump Is Wrong: Immigrants Commit Less Crime than US Natives

Austin, Texas (PanAm) – Donald Trump couldn’t have been more wrong when he said Mexicans are bringing “drugs, crime, and their rapists” to the United States, according to the US-based American Immigration Council. Their latest study claims immigrants — both legal and illegal — are, in fact, less likely to commit a crime or be arrested than US-born Americans.

The report published on Wednesday, July 8, says this holds true for every immigrant group, regardless of home country, education level, or legal status.

The study’s authors, Walter Ewing, Daniel Martínez, and Rubén Rumbaut, believe current US immigration policy relies more on stereotypes than facts, given their findings that the majority of migrants are not criminals “by any commonly accepted definition of the term.”

While lawmakers may claim that anti-immigration policies are part of a broader strategy to fight crime, the experts say criminality in the United States cannot be attributed to immigrants.

“This is hardly surprising since immigrants come to the United States to pursue economic and educational opportunities not available in their home countries and to build better lives for themselves and their families. As a result, they have little to gain and much to lose by breaking the law,” they claim.

Nevertheless, US President Barack Obama has deported over 2 million people during his administration, breaking up families and communities in the process. “These are tragedies that could be prevented,” the 28-page report notes, “if only Congress would choose to inject proportionality, discretion, and a little humanity back into the immigration system.”

The study further claims that deportation is designed to expel non-violent criminals, including legal residents who have worked and raised their children in the country for decades. The authors emphasize that prejudices often influence lawmakers’ decisions when it comes to immigrants, and echo the words of psychologist Abraham Maslow: “It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

One of the principal findings of the report is that historical increases in immigration rates in the United States correlate with decreases in crime rates.

Between 1990 and 2013, the number of US residents who were born in another country swelled from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent, and the number of illegal immigrants in the country more than tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million, according to the survey. However, FBI data shows that over the same period violent crime rates (robbery, rape, and murder) dropped by 48 percent.

Moreover, the report claims the US government applies a double standard with its “zero tolerance” policy towards migrants who commit minor infractions.

“‘Crimes’ which might result in a fine or a suspended sentence for natives end up getting immigrants detained and deported. This represents a double standard of justice for immigrants in which the scale of the punishment (detention and deportation) far outweighs the severity of the crime (traffic offenses, for example).”

“Open Up the Borders”

Bart Frazier, program director at the Future of Freedom Foundation, told the PanAm Post that “the fact that immigrants are statistically less likely to engage in criminal activity is unsurprising.” He says it is not an easy task to gain entry into the United States, and “immigrants who make the effort to get here are here to work, and work hard.”

Immigration sign. Image Source: ProgressOhio, Flickr, Creative Commons

Immigration sign.
Image Source: ProgressOhio, Flickr, Creative Commons

“At the end of the day though, this is irrelevant. Suppose that immigrants were statistically more likely to be criminals. So what? People should be free to travel where they wish so long as their actions are peaceful, and individual rights should never be governed by cost-benefit analysis,” he said. “Open up the borders.”

Translated by Adam Dubove and Guillermo Jimenez.

 Written by Belén Marty for The PanAm Post.