In an effort to comprehend the link between immigration and crime, anecdotes are no substitute for substantiated evidence. The Republican National Convention strategically presented two mothers whose sons were killed by undocumented immigrants in an attempt to give the impression that immigrants are more likely to commit violent crimes. Despite political propaganda and efforts by individuals who are anti-immigrant to instill fear, prejudice, and stereotyping about immigrants, a report by the American Immigration Council (AIC) finds immigrants are actually less likely than the native-born individuals to engage in criminal behavior and that higher immigration is, in fact, associated with lower crime rates. The study by the AIC finds that this phenomenon holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized/undocumented, regardless of their country of origin or level of education. In other words, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not “criminals by any commonly accepted definition of the term.
Results of a different scholarly study on immigrant status and criminal behavior from the University of Texas, published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology in 2014, found that immigrant adolescents are less likely than their native-born peers in the United States to commit crimes, use drugs and behave violently. According to the study, immigrant youth are “more likely to come from close families with strong parental relationships, to engage positively in school and to disapprove of drug use.” Indeed, the researchers of the study, Vaughn and Salas-Wright explain how, despite popular assumptions about immigrants, there is relatively little empirical research in support of the idea that immigrants are disproportionately likely to commit crimes.
These research studies are vital to dispelling the myth of immigrant criminality because statistical data are consistently overlooked in the policy debate over immigration. At the Shulman Law Group, LLC, our immigration law staff has proudly worked with the immigrant community for over two decades. The vast majority of the thousands of clients we have helped are honest, pious, and hard-working individuals, with histories free of any type of criminal behavior. It is heartening to learn that the research supports our experience with honorable immigration clients from around the globe.