Donald Trump and anti-immigrant legislators continue to claim that immigrants, both legal and illegal, bring higher rates of crime with them, but the data simply does not support that claim. The Washington Post updates their factcheck from 2015 with some new data that still shows this claim to be a lie.
A March 2017 study by the pro-immigration Cato Institute found that “all immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives relative to their shares of the population” and that “even illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans.”
Analyzing Census data from the 2014 American Community Survey, authors Michelangelo Landgrave and Alex Nowrasteh found that 2,194,435 individuals were incarcerated in 2014. The imprisonment rate for unauthorized immigrants was 0.85 percent, and 0.47 percent for legal immigrants, they found. Subtracting immigration-related offenses, the rate was lower for unauthorized immigrants: 0.5 percent.
The American Immigration Council, another pro-immigration group, estimated that there were 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in 2013. The total population that year was 316.2 million, according to the Census, which means illegal immigrants made up 3.5 percent of the total population when using the council’s estimate.
Cato’s study suggests that unauthorized immigrants are dramatically underrepresented in the U.S. prison population, including or excluding immigration offenses.
Immigrants, legal and illegal, actually bring the crime rate down, not up. But the public doesn’t believe or know this because they are easily manipulated by anecdotal stories. That’s why Trump had the loved ones of people killed by immigrants make appearances during the campaign, because it’s easy to use one or two examples to convince people, though fear, that there’s a serious problem when there isn’t. It’s how demagogues operate.