Michael Light, a criminologist at the University of Wisconsin, looked at whether the soaring increase in illegal immigration over the last three decades caused a commensurate jump in violent crimes: murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
“Increased undocumented immigration since 1990 has not increased violent crime over that same time period,” Light said in a phone interview.
Those findings are published in the current edition of the peer-reviewed journal Criminology.
In a separate study, these same researchers previously looked at nonviolent crime. They found that the dramatic influx of undocumented immigrants, similarly, did not drive up rates of drug and alcohol arrests or the number of drug overdoses and DUI deaths.
“We found no evidence that undocumented immigration increases the prevalence of any of those outcomes,” Light said.
A third study, by the libertarian Cato Institute, recently looked at criminality among undocumented immigrants just in Texas. The state records the immigration status of arrestees, creating a gold mine for criminologists.
Cato found that in 2015, criminal conviction and arrest rates in Texas for undocumented immigrants were lower than those of native-born Americans for murder, sexual assault and larceny.
Finally, a research paper appearing in the current edition of the U.K. journal Migration Letters shows that youthful undocumented immigrants engage in less crime than do legal immigrants or U.S.-born peers.
According to reporter Burnett, social science has focused on the extent of crime committed by legal immigrants for decades. These new studies are important because they’re among the first to explore the link between crime and illegal immigration.
However, Burnett also indicates that the new research may not move the needle in the immigration debate. Texas Republicans, for instance, have potent opinions about undocumented immigrants. A recent poll showed that 7 out of 10 GOP voters in Texas support the proposition that all undocumented immigrants should be deported immediately regardless of whether they have committed a crime there.
My opinion? Immigration certainly is a hot-button political issue. Hopefully, the research is exposing some critical truths which may shed light on the issues and change the narrative.