Immigrants Actually DECREASE Crime

Release Date
December 6, 2016


Immigration Politics & Policy

One common misconception about immigrants is the belief that they cause or increase crime. Join David Bier, a policy analyst from the Cato Institute, as he reconsiders this idea and examines the benefits of immigration.  

Do Immigrants Steal Our Jobs? (video): Professor Ben Powell dispels three immigration myths. 
Nativists created our immigration problem (blog post): David Bier looks at the various mistakes policymakers continually put in place to correct past mistakes. 
Immigration and Self-Determination (article): Professors Chris Freiman and Javier Hidalgo explore the relationship between liberalism and immigration. 

There are two different ways in economics literature to estimate the impact of immigration on crime. One is to take the big picture, look at a city and see how much it’s grown as a result of immigration, and then compare it to other cities that haven’t seen as much of an increase in immigration and see which does better in terms of crime reduction, controlling for a lot of different factors of course. What those studies have all found is not only does immigration not increase crime. It actually reduces crime. Immigrants tend to be less crime prone apparently than the native born population. The other way of taking a look at it is just look who’s in our jails. The census actually does document who is in our jails and immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than the native born.
There’s actually a third argument that a lot of people don’t understand, but it’s reflected in the fact that during the 1990s we had the largest increase in immigration in recent years, mostly from Mexico, and we had the largest reduction in violent crime over a generation during that period of time. What ends up happening is that immigrants, because they’re less likely to be incarcerated and they’re less likely to commit crimes, they actually reduce the crime level of the native born population. That’s because when you throw in lower crime population, fewer criminals can make contacts with other criminals, so you actually reduce the crime level by disrupting criminal networking. That’s actually a really important benefit of Mexican immigration as well.