Many questions that we receive involve whether or not undocumented immigration causes increased crime rates in bigger cities like Los Angeles, Miami, or Dallas. The short answer is “no, not really…but yes, technically.” What exactly does that mean? Well, first you need to understand that simply being an undocumented immigrant is usually a crime. Overstayed your visa? Hopped the fence? Well, those are technically crimes. So when you hear how many undocumented individuals are criminals, that’s where those statistics are coming from.
Another reason why undocumented individuals are convicted of crime is the status quo. Those who flee to the country generally don’t do so because their pockets are leaking with American dollar bills. Plenty of people are stopped by police officers. If those officers don’t find a valid ID, chances are you’re getting arrested no matter who you are. It’s a lot more likely if they can’t find out who you are. On top of that, once arrested they can’t afford an attorney who can actually help.
An anonymous lawyer for the Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman said, “We always recommend immigrating to the United States the old fashioned way, but the truth is harder for most people to comprehend. It’s just not an option for everyone. Moving is a huge financial drain for most of us, and they’re not coming from places where wealth is the norm. Heck, even your average American would have more trouble just emigrating to Canada than they might expect. It’s tough.”
And some people just think immigrants are immune from the law in the United States. They aren’t. When they commit a crime, they’re treated with far more scrutiny than anyone else. But if you were the victim of a crime committed by an undocumented individual, you have the legal right to call the police to report the crime or sue in civil court if there were damages.
What would surprise some people in this country is that the rates of “actual” crime among undocumented immigrants are usually lower than those of the native population. One Texas study published in the PNAS used data compiled from arrest data compared crime rates in various groups, including undocumented individuals, legal immigrants, and native-born citizens living in Texas.
The study found that citizens of the United States were about twice as likely to be arrested for a violent crime, even more likely to be arrested for drug-related offenses, and a whopping four times more likely to be arrested for property crimes. What do these statistics actually mean? Well, when you remove the “they’re all criminals” element, undocumented immigrants and fair immigrants aren’t actually committing any crimes. Undocumented immigrants are considered criminals just for being here.
Other studies have found similar data to satisfy similar conclusions. The perception that immigrants commit more criminal activity will likely persist due to news outlets like Fox News or popular public figures like Donald Trump, who twist the truth or tell outright lies. But perception is only reality for the people who are forced to suffer for it.