Healthy Living

Your Grandpa Didn't Come To America To Commit Crime, And Neither Do Today's Immigrants

Immigration is actually linked to a drop in certain crimes, a new study finds.
02/15/2017 04:34pm ET
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People in New York City protest President Trump's immigration ban on Feb. 11.

Amid all the fear-mongering and lies about immigrants these days, let’s be clear on the facts. President Donald Trump may be fond of claiming that immigration leads to crime, but the data show just the opposite.

A large-scale new study led by the State University of New York at Buffalo found no association between immigration patterns and higher crime rates.

In fact, immigration actually correlates with minor decreases in some crimes, according to the report published in the latest issue of the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice.

“Our research shows strong and stable evidence ― across 200 U.S. metropolitan areas and 40 years ― that for murder, robbery, burglary, and larceny, as immigration increases, crime decreases on average in American metropolitan areas,” Dr. Robert Adelman, a sociologist at the University at Buffalo and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post.

The study found no effect of immigration on aggravated assault rates, he added.

In the current political climate, we need data like this to support informed ― rather than emotionally charged ― dialogue and decision-making.

“This research is important because our policy debates and arguments should center around data, evidence, and facts,” Adelman said. “The more rigorous our policy discussions, the better.”

“This research is important because our policy debates and arguments should center around data, evidence, and facts.”

- Dr. Robert Adelman

The researchers analyzed census information and FBI crime data from 200 cities between the years 1970 and 2010. They found that in most cases, crime was stable or actually declined slightly in communities with large immigrant populations. This generally agrees with most previous research on the subject.

“Communities experiencing demographic change driven by immigration patterns do not experience significant increases in any of the kinds of crime we examined,” Adelman said in a press release.

Not only do immigrants not drive up crime rates, they also make positive contributions to their new homes. Overall, immigration waves tend to have a favorable effect on community and economic life, the study’s authors noted.

“There is a large literature about the contributions and benefits of immigrants in the communities they live in,” Adelman said. “From sheer population growth to economic revitalization, immigrants often bring social and economic vitality to cities and communities.”

In a 1997 study, psychologist Dean Keith Simonton found that periods of increased immigration often precede periods of exceptional creative achievement in a culture. Immigrants offer fresh ideas and perspectives, thereby spurring innovation for all of us.

So yes, Lin-Manuel Miranda had it right: Immigrants do get the job done.

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