American Immigrant Policy Portal
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In This Issue

Research to Inform Policy and Practice   
on Migration-Related Issues
Policy-related reports, studies, and information about the challenge and promise of immigrant integration. Materials organized by collection topic.
Click on headlines for abstracts and links.

FeatureResearchFeatured Research

Paper finds no evidence of any "indirect" effects of immigration on crime rates in the U.S.

Urban crime rates and the changing face of immigration: Evidence across four decades
Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 15:1 (2017), 25 pp.
Authors: Robert Adelman et al
(copy of paper available only to journal subscribers)

Although research has consistently shown that immigrants have lower crime rates than the native-born population, testing for possible "indirect" effects on crime rates, e.g. by leading native-born Americans affected by hypothetical job displacement to turn to lives of crime, has been minimal. This study attempts to remedy this gap in research. The authors investigate the immigration-crime relationship within 200 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) over a 40-year time period from 1970 to 2010.  By pushing the time frame back to 1970 (the horizon for most recent studies is much shorter), this research has the advantage of including periods of both economic stress and expansion. The study examines rates (per 100,000 people) of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, and larceny at five points in time (1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010).  The results show that "the presence of immigrants consistently helped to decrease violent and property crime in U.S. metropolitan areas" and thus suggestions that immigrants contribute to crime through "structural" or "macro-level" mechanisms are unfounded.  The paper also contains a useful summary of research to date on the question of immigration and crime.

Review of recent research casts doubt on President Trump's claims that immigrants are prone to crime

The Sentencing Project, March, 2017, 16 pp.
Authors: Nazgol Ghandnoosh & Josh Rovner

According to the authors of this report, the impact of immigration on crime rates in the United States is a "well-examined field of study" which has produced "a rigorous body of research."  After summarizing this research, the authors conclude that President Donald Trump "has made demonstrably false claims associating immigrants with criminality." The report covers research in three areas:  immigrant crime rates compared to native-born individuals, the relationship between rising immigration and falling crime rates in local communities, and incarceration rates in federal and state prisons. In the first area, the authors focus on adolescent and undocumented criminality, citing studies showing that "foreign-born youth...had among the lowest delinquency rates when compared to their peers" and that "immigrants - regardless of legal status - do not have higher crime rates than native-born citizens."  In the second area, the authors reference several studies that find a connection between increases in immigration and decreases in crime rates in cities and metropolitan areas, including one study that found a similar inverse relationship at the neighborhood level in Chicago. Finally, the authors disaggregate the U.S. prison population to explain the over-representation of non-citizens in the federal system, and their underrepresentation in the state. Although non-citizens are slightly underrepresented in U.S. prisons as a whole, they are greatly underrepresented in state prisons, where non-citizens make up only four percent of the population (of the 1.5 million people imprisoned in state and federal prisons, 87 percent are held in state institutions).  Within federal prisons, however, 22 percent are non-citizens, largely resulting from the criminalization of immigration violations since 2000 (66 percent of all federal sentences imposed in 2015 were for immigration violations).  The authors conclude that "false statements about immigrant criminality contribute to unfounded public fears that threaten the safety of immigrants and U.S. citizens."

NewResearchNew Public Policy Research and Reports

lcLatest Commentary
A selection of recent OpEds from immigration researchers and major opinion leaders

March 17, 2017
Rep. Steve King is half-right. Immigrants really do change America's culture
Tom Gjelten, The Washington Post
Read More

March 17, 2017
The Problem with Calling the U.S. a 'Nation of Immigrants'
Arica L. Coleman, Time
Read More

March 16, 2017
Green Beer and Rank Hypocrisy
Fintan O'Toole, The New York Times
Read More

March 10, 2017
Immigration Works Fine When Newcomers Integrate
Noah Smith, Bloomberg View
Read More

March 7, 2017
Fact Checker: Trump's claim that immigrants cost taxpayers 'many billions of dollars a year'
Michelle Ye Hee Lee, The Washington Post
Read More

March 5, 2017
What Biracial People Know: Research on the Benefits of Diversity Doesn't Bode Well for our Mostly White, Male Cabinet
Moises Velsquez-Manoff, The New York Times
Read More

March 3, 2017
What the research says about immigrants hasn't changed
Audrey Singer & Kim S. Reuben, Urban Wire
Read More

March 2, 2017
Sociology professor's work on immigration's impact on crime proves timely
Jennifer L. Williams, William & Mary News
Read More

March 2, 2017
Scapegoating immigrants is now official policy
Albor Ruiz, Al Dia News
Read More

March 2, 2017
Does NJ Have a Lot to Lose if Undocumented Deported in Large Numbers?
John Reitmeyer, NJ Spotlight
Read More

February 27, 2017
Stanford's dean of medicine says restricting immigration to the US is bad for our health
Lloyd B. Minor, Quartz
Read More

February 26, 2017
America's mass deportation system is rooted in racism
Kelly Lytle Hernandez, The Conversation
Read More

February 22, 2017
Trump's mentions of 'honor killings' betray the truth of his 'Muslim ban'
Leti Volpp, The Hill
Read More

February 21, 2017
Trump's immigration order will increase crime
Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post

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