For more than a century, innumerable studies have confirmed two simple yet powerful truths about the relationship between immigration and crime: immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime.
Higher Immigration is Associated with Lower Crime Rates
- Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million.
- During the same period, FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48 percent—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41 percent, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.
Also see: Immigration Is Probably the Best Way to Fight Crime, New York Magazine –
Martinez and his colleagues found that areas with lots of immigrants saw reductions in violence over time, with a noted decline in homicides. Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson has found that the more languages that were spoken in a given neighborhood in Chicago in the 1990s, the fewer homicides there were from the 1990s to 2006.
New York City — where two million immigrants have arrived since the 1980s — is a case study: An analysis of immigration trends in the city from 1975 to 2013 found that for every 1-percent increase in the immigrant population for a given precinct, 966 fewer crimes were committed per year on average.