You may think Donald Trump was out of line when he famously said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re 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. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Trump may be wacko, but be honest, now: Although we may not characterize Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists with the exception of “some, I assume,” it’s easy to believe that immigrant populations are probably more crime-ridden than the rest of us. After all, they’re poor and desperate. That spells more crime, doesn’t it?
The data say otherwise!
I’d like to refer you to two remarkable studies. The first is from the Pew Research Center. Follow the link for the whole study, but here’s the graph that says it all.
The graph shows that first-generation immigrants, a quarter of whom are undocumented, commit crimes with substantially less frequency than the rest of us.
Unfortunately, the second generation catches up to us as they “assimilate.” (And let’s remember that contrary to uninformed ranting I’ve heard from the Right, the second generation are U.S. citizens by birth as specified in the Constitution, not based on some law that liberal Democrats pushed through as a ploy to win the immigrant vote.)
Another way of looking at this is that if we were to remove all immigrants, including the “illegals,” from the population, our average crime rate would go up, not down, all other factors remaining constant.
That’s a point made in a study from the very sober-sounding Police Foundation. They describe themselves thus: “Independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit, the Police Foundation works to improve American policing and enhance the capacity of the criminal justice system to function effectively.” Their study entitled Undocumented Immigration and Rates of Crime and Imprisonment: Popular Myths and Empirical Realities, concludes in part,
…data from the census and a wide range of other empirical studies show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans, who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.
Nor is this a recent phenomenon:
These patterns have been observed consistently over the last three decennial censuses, a period that spans the current era of mass immigration, and recall similar national-level findings reported by three major government commissions during the first three decades of the twentieth century, as did another U.S. commission in the 1990s.
Other than having committed the crime of being here, it seems that so-called illegals are actually more law-abiding than the rest of us. Let’s improve our population by inviting more of them! And why not make them legal while we’re at it? They have shown they deserve it.