Do Illegal Aliens Really Commit Fewer Crimes?

Authored by: Matt Palumbo

The Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show last month in the aftermath of Mollie Tibbett’s death, to argue that contrary to popular belief, illegal aliens are more law abiding than the rest of us (I suppose we’re supposed to ignore the criminality of their immigration status). I’m not sure what comfort Mollie’s parents are supposed to feel in “learning” that their daughter was at least murdered at a statistically lower rate than the overall population, but such was Nowrasteh’s take. 

Most of Tucker’s argument centered on how illegal immigrants are disproportionately represented in federal prisons, while Nowrasteh argued that’s only due to immigration related offenses, and claimed that illegals are imprisoned at rates lower than the general population in Texas. As Nowrasteh could’ve learned from prior segments on Tucker’s show, that’s indeed not the case at the federal level. 

 

It should be noted off the bat that all estimates of illegal immigration crime are underestimates, for a simple reason. In America, the average convict released had 3.9 prior convictions (excluding convictions that didn’t result in jail time). Given that illegal immigrants will simply be deported at the end of their sentence (or be deported in lieu of other punishment), the chance of them re-offending is essentially zero (unless they’re to reenter the U.S.). Furthermore, illegal immigrant victims of crimes committed by other illegals go unreported nearly 100% of the time for an obvious reason. Given that most white crime victims were victimized by other white people, and most black crime victims victimized by other black people, would it be a stretch to suggest that its the majority of illegal immigrant crimes going unreported, since they’re against other illegals?  

Right off the bat, we’re comparing a native population that can re-offend, to one that will experience difficulty in doing so, as it’ll require them to again illegally immigrate. Despite that, U.S. Census data from 2011 to 2015 shows that noncitizens are 7% more likely than the U.S. population to be incarcerated in adult correctional facilities.

For some perspective on how deportations may have understated those figures, note that 1.5 million illegals who committed crimes were deported from 2005-2015, which is ten times higher than the number of adult illegals imprisoned in 2015. In other words, annual deportations of criminal illegals averaged the size of the illegal alien prison population (and yes, I realize how redundant the phrase “criminal illegals” is).

Illegals in Arizona

According to one study of illegal immigrants in Arizona by John Lott:

Undocumented immigrants are at least 142% more likely to be convicted of a crime than other Arizonans. They also tend to commit more serious crimes and serve 10.5% longer sentences, more likely to be classified as dangerous, and 45% more likely to be gang members than U.S. citizens.

If those figures were extrapolated nationally, illegals in 2016 “would have been responsible for over 1,000 more murders, 5,200 rapes, 8,900 robberies, 25,300 aggravated assaults, and 26,900 burglaries.”

Government Studies on Illegal Alien Murder Rates

A 2011 Government Accountability Office study of the illegal alien populations in Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas found much of the same.

Looking at murder rates, the study found:

  • Arizona: 68.57 illegals imprisoned for homicide per 100,000 illegal aliens, compared to 54.06 per 100,000 for legal citizens in Arizona (21.16% higher)
  • California: 92.7 illegals imprisoned for homicide per 100,000, compared to 74.1 per 100,000 for legal California residents (25.1% higher).
  • New York: 168.75 per 100,000 illegals imprisoned for homicide, compared to 48.12 in the legal New York population (250.69% higher).
  • Texas: 54.54 illegal aliens per 100,000 imprisoned for homicide, compared to 63.43 in the legal Texas population (14.02% lower).
  • Florida: 54.85 per 100,000 illegals imprisoned for homicide, compared to 67.8 for legal Florida residents. (19.1% lower).
  • *Note that these are rates of imprisonment per 100,000, not annual homicide rates.

So, illegals actually are safer than the general population in Texas, hence why Nowrasteh chose to highlight Texas as “exhibit A” in proving illegals commit less crimes (in this case, murder).

However, the statistically lower rates that illegals commit homicides in Florida and Texas are far overshadowed by the States where they commit far more crimes. If we average together the average murder rates from the five states, we find that there are 87.882 illegal aliens imprisoned for homicide for every 100,000 illegal aliens, compared to a rate of 61.5 for the legal population. In other words, illegal aliens commit murders at rates 43% higher than the general population.

Perhaps Nowrasteh will mention illegal alien criminality in New York next time he appears on Tucker – but I won’t count on it.

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