Tag Archives: immigration

Immigration and crime: What does the research say?

Charis Kubrin, University of California, Irvine; Graham C. Ousey, College of William & Mary; Lesley Reid, University of Alabama, and Robert Adelman, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Editor’s note: In his first week in office, President Donald Trump showed he intends to follow through on his immigration promises. A major focus of his campaign was on removing immigrants who, he said, were increasing crime in American communities.

In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump named victims who were reportedly killed by undocumented immigrants and said:

“They are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources…We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities.”

Now as president, he has signed executive orders that restrict entry of immigrants from seven countries into the U.S. and authorize the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. He also signed an order to prioritize the removal of “criminal aliens” and withhold federal funding from “sanctuary cities.”

But, what does research say about how immigration impacts crime in U.S. communities? We turned to our experts for answers.

Across 200 metropolitan areas

Robert Adelman, University at Buffalo, and Lesley Reid, University of Alabama

Research has shown virtually no support for the enduring assumption that increases in immigration are associated with increases in crime.

Immigration-crime research over the past 20 years has widely corroborated the conclusions of a number of early 20th-century presidential commissions that found no backing for the immigration-crime connection. Although there are always individual exceptions, the literature demonstrates that immigrants commit fewer crimes, on average, than native-born Americans.

Also, large cities with substantial immigrant populations have lower crime rates, on average, than those with minimal immigrant populations.

In a paper published this year in the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, we, along with our colleagues Gail Markle, Saskia Weiss and Charles Jaret, investigated the immigration-crime relationship.

We analyzed census data spanning four decades from 1970 to 2010 for 200 randomly selected metropolitan areas, which include center cities and surrounding suburbs. Examining data over time allowed us to assess whether the relationship between immigration and crime changed with the broader U.S. economy and the origin and number of immigrants.

The most striking finding from our research is that for murder, robbery, burglary and larceny, as immigration increased, crime decreased, on average, in American metropolitan areas. The only crime that immigration had no impact on was aggravated assault. These associations are strong and stable evidence that immigration does not cause crime to increase in U.S. metropolitan areas, and may even help reduce it.

There are a number of ideas among scholars that explain why more immigration leads to less crime. The most common explanation is that immigration reduces levels of crime by revitalizing urban neighborhoods, creating vibrant communities and generating economic growth.

Across 20 years of data

Charis E. Kubrin, University of California, Irvine, and Graham Ousey, College of William and Mary

For the last decade, we have been studying how immigration to an area impacts crime.

Across our studies, one finding remains clear: Cities and neighborhoods with greater concentrations of immigrants have lower rates of crime and violence, all else being equal.

Our research also points to the importance of city context for understanding the immigration-crime relationship. In one study, for example, we found that cities with historically high immigration levels are especially likely to enjoy reduced crime rates as a result of their immigrant populations.

Findings from our most recent study, forthcoming in the inaugural issue of The Annual Review of Criminology, only strengthen these conclusions.

We conducted a meta-analysis, meaning we systematically evaluated available research on the immigration-crime relationship in neighborhoods, cities and metropolitan areas across the U.S. We examined findings from more than 50 studies published between 1994 and 2014, including studies conducted by our copanelists, Adelman and Reid.

Our analysis of the literature reveals that immigration has a weak crime-suppressing effect. In other words, more immigration equals less crime.

There were some individual studies that found that with an increase in immigration, there was an increase in crime. However, there were 2.5 times as many findings that showed immigration was actually correlated with less crime. And, the most common finding was that immigration had no impact on crime.

The upshot? We find no evidence to indicate that immigration leads to more crime and it may, in fact, suppress it.

The Conversation

Charis Kubrin, Professor of Criminology, Law and Society, University of California, Irvine; Graham C. Ousey, Professor and Chair of Sociology, College of William & Mary; Lesley Reid, Professor and Department Chair of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Alabama, and Robert Adelman, Associate Professor of Sociology, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

11-Page Memo Proposes Using National Guard To Round Up Immigrants

Homeland Security proposed mass deportations in 11 states in a memo leaked through the Associated Press yesterday, while the Trump administration claims it was rejected as an ‘early draft’

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said there was “no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants” despite the leaked memo from the Department of Homeland Security reaching the media. DHS staffers had said on Thursday that they were told by colleagues in two DHS departments that the proposal was still being considered as recently as Feb. 10. The memo gives insight into what the Trump administration is attempting as part of President Trump’s promise to stop illegal immigration in the United States.

Congressmen on both sides of the aisle have been critical of the White House after Donald Trump’s executive orders regarding illegal immigration in late January and this memo did not do anything to quell the outrage both in congress and from the public. “Regardless of the White House’s response, this document is an absolutely accurate description of the disturbing mindset that pervades the Trump administration when it comes to our nation’s immigrants,” said U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)

Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said the National Guard did not have the resources to carry out such a task, while two other Republican governors, Gary Herbert  of Utah and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, condemned the proposal as “unconstitutional” and “an inappropriate use of guard resources”, respectively. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) called the immigration efforts of the White House “offensive”, saying it’s “inability to manage its own message and policy” was causing chaos.

Spicer’s comments are being called out as a lie by critics of the Trump administration throughout the press and social media with the recognition of Trump’s campaign promise to end illegal immigration by any means necessary, even using terms such as “round up” when being interviewed by 60 Minutes in 2015, saying

“We’re rounding ’em up in a very humane way, in a very nice way. And they’re going to be happy because they want to be legalized. And, by the way, I know it doesn’t sound nice. But not everything is nice.”

The Associate Press said they reached out to Spicer before releasing the document, but had not heard back from him until after the document had been released and caused an uproar.

This wouldn’t be the first time the National Guard was used to enforce immigration law, but would have been the first time it was used so broadly. If implemented, the impact could have been significant. Nearly one-half of the 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without authorization live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.


How the Supreme Court decision on United States v. Texas will affect millions of families

“We are just waiting,” says Lisa, a 19-year-old college student, the anxiety palpable in her voice. Lisa is a U.S. citizen, born and raised in South Texas. Her parents and older brother, however, are undocumented.

The entire family’s lives may be turned upside down in just a few days.

This month, the Supreme Court will issue a decision in the case of United States v. Texas. The court will decide on whether to uphold two immigration initiatives announced by President Barack Obama in 2014 – Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, also known as DAPA, and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA+.

A long legal battle

As many as five million people nationwide are eligible to apply for protection under these programs. However, these actions have been on hold since February 2015, when a federal judge in Texas and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed to hear a challenge from 26 states. They questioned Obama’s authority to use executive actions to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The actual focus of the case is quite mundane: driver’s license fees. The state of Texas has argued that is would suffer significant
financial impact if required to subsidize the cost of licenses to people qualifying for the president’s programs.

On the other hand, the federal government has argued that the president’s actions are a lawful use of “prosecutorial discretion” – that is, the power to influence a deportation case by deciding whether and which charges to pursue. They also argue that the states lack “standing,” or legal capacity, to file the lawsuit.

The impact of these programs is expected to extend beyond the eligible immigrants. More than 10 million people live in a household with at least one DAPA-eligible adult. These are typically “mixed-status” families, which include various combinations of U.S. citizens, permanent legal residents, undocumented immigrants, individuals in legal limbo or in temporary statuses. The majority of children in mixed-status families – an estimated 4.3 million children – are U.S. citizens by birth, like Lisa.

Since 2013, I have been investigating the experiences of mixed-status families to understand how the undocumented legal status of just one person in a household can impact the other members of the family. This includes differences in health care access, educational attainment, economic stability, social mobility and general well-being. People like Lisa are often unable to experience the full rights of citizenship, and live in fear and uncertainty because of their family members’ susceptibility to deportation.

In other words, children who are U.S. citizens are directly impacted by their parents’ undocumented status on a daily basis.

What is deferred action?

Deferred action provides short-term relief from deportation for select individuals. Prior programs, such as the 2012 DACA program, offered some of those who arrived in the U.S. as children (often called “DREAMers”) the ability to apply for two years of deportation deferral. The current executive actions before the Supreme Court expand this program in two ways.

Families attend a legal workshop on immigration in Chicago.
REUTERS/Joshua Lott

First, they widen the eligibility criteria to more groups of childhood arrivals. Second, and most notably, they expand the program to parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. These programs do not represent amnesty, do not lead to permanent residency or citizenship and have clearly delineated eligibility criteria and cutoff dates, such as age and date of entry to the U.S. Each case is reviewed individually. Not everyone who is eligible will be approved.

The programs allow some undocumented immigrants to temporarily remain in the country and obtain work permits and a social security number, if they have been here for at least five years and have not committed felonies or repeated misdemeanors. An estimated 70 percent of adults eligible for DAPA have lived in the U.S. for 10 or more years, and one-quarter have lived here for at least 20 years.

In the coming days, three possible scenarios emerge. If the Supreme Court sides with the Obama administration, DAPA and DACA+ will go into effect, and up to five million people will be eligible for temporary relief.

The second possibility is that the court will rule against the Obama administration: measures will remain blocked and the status quo upheld.

The third possibility is a 4-4 tie, which is not an unlikely scenario because of the unusual current makeup of the nation’s highest court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In this case, the decisions of the lower courts would remain in place and the initiatives blocked, for now.

A $100 billion difference

Mixed-status households experience high levels of poverty, since undocumented adults are generally forced to find jobs in low-paying, unregulated sectors of the economy. These measures would provide individuals with work authorization for three years, and could raise the average family’s income by 10 percent.

The White House Council on Economic Advisers has conservatively estimated that DAPA and DACA+ would raise the nation’s GDP by 0.5 percent after 10 years. That’s equivalent to an additional US$100 billion in real GDP in today’s dollars, and would cut federal deficits by $30 billion in 10 years. Overall, this would result in an economic boost, increased productivity and a greater tax base, since recipients of deferred action would pay taxes.

Not only does a work permit provide the opportunity for holders to earn money in fields suitable to their skill level, but it protects people from crimes such as wage theft and labor trafficking. It would also allow many recipients to open bank accounts, establish credit and obtain auto or home loans for the first time. The original DACA program, announced in 2012, helped recipients increase participation in the labor force and earn higher wages than they did before.

Easing burdens on families

Under these programs, many men and women will be able to obtain driver’s licenses for the first time, depending on the state in which they live. This ensures every driver is trained, tested, licensed and insured. It also increases their ability to get to work, school or doctor appointments. Additionally, deferred action recipients would have the ability to petition for travel to their home countries for family emergencies, such as illness or funerals.

A student who has benefited from DACA speaks.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

While recipients of deferred action are not eligible for any health care provisions under the Affordable Care Act, some states have offered plans for low-income individuals with this status. With a work permit, many would gain access to employer-based health insurance plans.

In addition, eliminating parents’ susceptibility for deportation can reduce barriers to accessing medical care for their children. Despite eligibility for benefits such as Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Programs, children of undocumented parents access these programs at a lower rate than those with citizen parents.

Young adults are more likely to seek out and be successful with a college education or vocational training if they have deferred action status. While exclusion from federal financial aid still applies, some states offer assistance to these students. A work permit and driver’s license increase their ability to pay for and attend college.

Overall, the benefits of deferred action programs are temporary and only partial. The men, women and children these programs will affect live daily knowing that their ability to remain in the country can be stripped from them at any moment, including by the next president. Nonetheless, deferred action initiatives offer significant benefits to families, and to a nation struggling to find solutions for a growing number of individuals living with the threat of deportation.

Those who will be impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision are optimistic but cautious.

“[I have] mixed feelings. I know my parents and brother would really benefit. But at the same time, we’ve been disappointed before,” Lisa says, referencing the stalled efforts at comprehensive immigration reform in years past.

The Conversation

Heide Castañeda, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of South Florida

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.