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Is There a Link between Immigration and Crime?

Immigration will always have socioeconomic impacts because it involves people, communities, and societies. Since immigration has been taking place since before biblical times, the body of research on this topic is extensive and has determined the long-run socioeconomic impacts are generally beneficial for the countries that send and receive migrants. Receiving nations benefit in terms of increased consumption, variety of goods, and cheap labor. Sending countries benefit from remittances, travel, and cultural exposure.

With regard to immigration and crime, specifically in the United States, the Trump administration has taken an alarmist position that is categorically false. In an effort to justify its draconian and counterproductive immigration policies, the White House has created a bogeyman linking migrants to crime. Much of the rhetoric comes from President Trump himself, who talks about immigrants as sexual predators, drug traffickers, gang members, and worse.

According to studies conducted by The Hamilton Project on behalf of the Brookings Institution, immigrants who have recently arrived in the U.S. are less likely to end up in prison, drug treatment centers, and mental health institutions. Furthermore, they have fewer interactions with law enforcement agencies, with the exception of those being rounded up by Customs and Border Protection agents who are part of Trump’s expensive and ineffective “deportation force.” The reason for this statistic is common sense: immigrants are constantly screened in terms of status and behavior, and they’re aware of this. The proclivity to engage in criminal behavior is curtailed by the potential of getting deported or losing asylum status.

Another interesting finding is that improving the lives of immigrants results in a drastic reduction of crime across many communities. Many immigration attorneys in San Diego agree that this means immigrants who obtain work permits and residence status are too busy living their lives and raising their families to bother with crime.

As for the perception of immigration as it relates to crime in the U.S., Trump is clearly having an effect. The Marshall Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to investigating criminal justice topics, has found that Gallup polls conducted since Trump took office in 2017 indicate that more than half of Americans believe the President when he blames immigrants for nonexistent crime waves. In 2015, a longitudinal research study conducted by four American universities across 200 metropolitan areas determined that crime rates have actually decreased by 36 percent since 1980, while the immigrant population of the U.S. increased by 118 percent during the same period.

In the end, immigration does have an impact on crime, and research shows the impact has been positive in the U.S.—which isn’t what President Trump and his allies in the White House preach, but they rarely back up their hyperbole with academic research, and it’s unlikely they ever will, because they would end up contradicting themselves.

In these turbulent political times, it’s often difficult to sift through the rhetoric and get the true picture about immigration, especially when people in power continue to repeat assertions that are simply untrue. Immigrants are understandably concerned about being portrayed as criminals because such stereotyping can affect immigration policies and legislation, leaving them uncertain about their futures in the U.S. If you have questions about any aspect of immigration, contact trusted attorneys who have vast experience with immigration services. In San Diego, CA, KS Visa Law is the firm to turn to when you need advice about immigration law and how it affects you and your family. Call us today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

August 2019
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