Getting the Story Straight on Immigrants and Crime – Examining the Evidence

by Victor Mora

Immigration is a hot button issue, especially under the current administration. There has been a sudden burst of anti-immigrant rhetoric that has emerged and some of it has been based on the portrayal of the criminal immigrant by politicians and the media. I understand people may not have the time to volunteer or the resources to donate, but another way to help the cause of immigrants is to be informed on the issues. There seems to be a lack of empathy for the plight of immigrants because they are viewed as criminals.

As a PhD student in criminology and criminal justice, I look at immigration from a different point of view as I examine the validity of these statements. I do this by reviewing what research has been done on the topic. After reviewing decades of rigorous research, it is safe to conclude that the “criminal immigrant” is a myth. By combating falsehoods with research, we can take steps to remove the “criminal immigrant” moniker and reduce the fear and animosity towards this segment of our population.

Below are several resources to get the reader started:

Immigration and Crime by Frances Bernat
This is an open-access extensive review of the research that has been done regarding the Immigration-crime link.

Illegal Immigration Does not Increase Violent Crime, 4 Studies by John Burnett
This piece by NPR highlights four recent studies that cover the topic of undocumented immigration and crime. Immigration and crime research has generally focused on legal immigration and crime because of access to data. However, there has been a recent surge of research regarding undocumented immigration and crime. The remaining links are the four studies this article mentions.

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