It's become routine for immigration hardliners like U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to blame illegal immigration for an imaginary spike in violent crime. Other conservative politicians, like California state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) or Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), commonly paint undocumented immigrants as criminals.
Several studies indicate, however, that immigrants -- both documented and undocumented -- are less likely than U.S. citizens to commit crimes. Furthermore, fears of illegal immigration fueling a rise in the homicide rate are simply unfounded.
The undocumented population in the United States began skyrocketing in the 1990s, spurred by a population boom in Mexico, the attractiveness of the then-surging U.S. economy and the economic dislocations in Mexico that accompanied the North American Free Trade Agreement. Contrary to what some critics say, during that time the homicide rate plummeted to its lowest level since 1963.
This chart should put to rest any fears that the murder rate has spiked due to illegal immigration. It hasn't. Click the chart to enlarge.
Sources: Pew Hispanic Trends Project and FBI Uniform Crime Statistics.