Last updated on: 5/22/2019 | Author:

Does Illegal Immigration Relate to Higher Crime Incidence?

PRO (yes)


Barry Latzer, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in a Jan. 24, 2019 article, “Do Illegal Aliens Have High Crime Rates?,” available at, stated:

“Nationwide data on crime by illegal aliens is unavailable mainly because most states don’t keep such records. For instance, California, with Hispanics making up more than 43 percent of its incarcerated population, provides no information on the alienage of its inmates. Texas does, though, and its Department of Public Safety reports that illegal aliens were arrested and charged with more than 298,000 crimes, an average of over 39,000 per year, from June 1, 2011 to the end of 2018. Though some of these arrests were for nonviolent crimes, such as theft, burglary, or drug offenses, they also include many violent crimes: 624 homicides, 1,911 robberies, and 3,955 sexual assaults (which, under Texas law, include rapes)…

No amount of crime by those who enter this country unlawfully should be acceptable, because it is ‘extra’ crime that wouldn’t occur if our border security were effective.”

Jan. 24, 2019


John Lott, Jr., PhD, Dean’s Visiting Professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton, in a Feb. 18, 2018 article, “Undocumented Immigrants, U.S. Citizens, and Convicted Criminals in Arizona,” available at, stated:

“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…

Young convicts are especially likely to be undocumented immigrants. While undocumented immigrants from 15 to 35 years of age make up slightly over two percent of the Arizona population, they make up about eight percent of the prison population. Even after adjusting for the fact that young people commit crime at higher rates, young undocumented immigrants commit crime at twice the rate of young U.S. citizens. These undocumented immigrants also tend to commit more serious crimes.”

Feb. 18, 2018


Steven Camarota, PhD, Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), in a Jan. 10, 2018 article, “Non-Citizens Committed a Disproportionate Share of Federal Crimes, 2011-16,” available at, stated:

“21% of those convicted of non-immigration crimes were non-citizens — 2.5 times their share of the population…

Areas where non-citizens account for a much larger share of convictions than their 8.4 percent share of the adult population include:

  • 42.4 percent of kidnapping convictions;
  • 31.5 percent of drug convictions;
  • 22.9 percent of money laundering convictions;
  • 13.4 percent of administration of justice offenses (e.g. witness tampering, obstruction, and contempt);
  • 17.8 percent of economic crimes (e.g. larceny, embezzlement, and fraud);
  • 13 percent of other convictions (e.g. bribery, civil rights, environmental, and prison offenses); and
  • 12.8 percent of auto thefts.”
Jan. 10, 2018


Malia Zimmerman, Investigative Reporter at, in a Sep. 16, 2015 article, “Elusive Crime Wave Data Shows Frightening Toll of Illegal Immigrant Criminals,” available at, stated:

“In the absence of comprehensive data, examined a patchwork of local, state and federal statistics that revealed a wildly disproportionate number of murderers, rapists and drug dealers are crossing into the U.S. amid the wave of hard-working families seeking a better life. The explosive figures show illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population and account for far more crimes than their 3.5-percent share of the U.S. population would suggest… did review reports from immigration reform groups and various government agencies, including the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Sentencing Commission, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Government Accountability Office, the Bureau of Justice Statistics and several state and county correctional departments. Statistics show the estimated 11.7 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. account for 13.6 percent of all offenders sentenced for crimes committed in the U.S. Twelve percent of murder sentences, 20 percent of kidnapping sentences and 16 percent of drug trafficking sentences are meted out to illegal immigrants.”

Sep. 16, 2015


Randall Hoven, MS, Electrical and Systems Engineering Lecturer at Washington University and retired Boeing Technical Fellow, in a July 13, 2015 article, “Illegal Aliens Murder at a Much Higher Rate Than US Citizens Do,” available at the American Thinker website, stated:

“Let’s take homicide as an example. The GAO estimates ‘criminal aliens’ were arrested, convicted and incarcerated for 25,064 homicides. If non-citizens committed them over seven years, the annual rate would be 14.2 per 100,000 non-citizens. If illegal aliens committed them over four years, the annual rate would be 58.0 per 100,000 illegal aliens. Either way you compute, those are high rates.

By comparison, the FBI reports the murder rates for the entire U.S. from 2003 through 2009 varied from 5.0 to 5.8 per 100,000 inhabitants for an average rate of 5.5. To be clear, 5.5 is much lower than either 14.2 or 58.0.

Or look at the total number of homicides in those years. Per the FBI, there were 67,642 murders in the U.S. from 2005 through 2008, and 115,717 from 2003 through 2009. Per the GAO, criminal aliens committed 25,064 of them. That means they committed 22% to 37% of all murders in the U.S., while being only 3.52% to 8.25% of the population.

Conclusion: criminal and illegal aliens commit murder at much higher rates than all inhabitants of the U.S. – at least 3 to 10 times higher.”

July 13, 2015


Peter Kirsanow, JD, attorney and member of the US Commission on Civil Rights, in an Oct. 1, 2015 article, “Americans Are Right to Worry about Illegal Aliens and Crime,” available at the National Review website, stated:

“[I]n three of the five states above [Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas], incarceration rates for murder and manslaughter were far higher for illegal aliens than for legal residents. Incarceration rates for murder are an imperfect proxy for rates of murders committed (illegal aliens may be more likely to be apprehended, have less competent counsel, etc.), but it’s difficult to contend that illegal aliens are more law-abiding than legal residents — at least when it comes to major crimes. And it’s even more difficult to contend that Americans’ concern about crimes committed by illegal aliens is overblown.

Regardless, comparative crime rates are less important than the absolute number of crimes committed by illegal aliens. Look at California, where approximately 2,430 illegal aliens are in prison just for homicide-related offenses. Even if one assumes that each illegal alien so imprisoned was responsible for just one homicide-related offense, that amounts to about a couple thousand major crimes that, arguably, wouldn’t have occurred but for the actors’ unlawful presence in the United States. That translates to thousands of American citizens (and others) across the country slaughtered by individuals who shouldn’t have been here in the first place.”

Oct. 1, 2015


Peter B. Gemma, National Executive Committee Member of the Constitution Party at the time of the quote, in an article, “Illegal Alien Crime and Violence by the Numbers: We’re All Victims,” accessed on Apr. 25, 2016 and available at the Constitution Party website, stated:

“75 percent of those on the most wanted criminals list in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Albuquerque are illegal aliens.

One quarter of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals, as are more than 40 percent of all inmates in Arizona and 48 percent in New Mexico jails.

Over 53 percent of all investigated burglaries reported in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas are perpetrated by illegal aliens.

63 percent of cited drivers in Arizona have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that number, 97 percent are illegal aliens. 66 percent of cited drivers in New Mexico have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 66 percent, 98 percent are illegal aliens.”

Apr. 25, 2016


The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), in a Mar. 2007 website article entitled “Illegal Aliens and Crime Incidence,” offered the following:

“Most Americans equate illegal aliens with a higher incidence of crime… in fact, data show that the American public understands the facts better than the academics. Adult illegal aliens represented 3.1 percent of the total adult population of the country in 2003. By comparison, the illegal alien prison population represented a bit more than 4.54 percent of the overall prison population. Therefore, deportable criminal aliens were more than half again as likely to be incarcerated as their share of the population.”

Mar. 2007


Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, PhD, Criminal Profiler and Founder of the Violent Crimes Institute, in a 2006 article entitled “The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Nearly One Million Sex Crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants in the United States,” wrote:

“After conducting a 12 month in-depth study of illegal immigrants who committed sex crimes and murders for the time period of January 1999 through April 2006 , it is clear that the U.S. public faces a dangerous threat from sex predators who cross the U.S. borders illegally… Offenders were located in 36 states, but it is clear, that the most of the offenders were located in states with the highest numbers of illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigrants who commit sex crimes first cross the U.S. border illegally… There is a clear pattern of criminal escalation. From misdemeanors such as assault or DUI, to drug offenses, illegal immigrants who commit sex crimes break U.S. laws repeatedly… Their attacks are particularly brutal, and they use a hands-on method of controlling and/or killing their victims.”



Jim Kouri, MA, Vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, in an Aug. 4, 2005 American Chronicle article entitled “Illegal Alien Crime Wave in Full Swing,” wrote:

“Complex problems are associated with illegal aliens who commit crimes… aliens do not confine their criminal activities to border cities. Communities throughout this country are experiencing increasing alien involvement in drug importation and distribution, weapons smuggling, and violence against persons and property. The escalation in alien crime has placed added demands on state and local law enforcement personnel.

In the [2005 U.S. Justice Department] population study of 55,322 illegal aliens, researchers found that they were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times, averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien.”

Aug. 4, 2005

CON (no)


The Marshall Project, in a May 13, 2019 article written by Anna Flagg, “Is There a Connection between Undocumented Immigrants and Crime?,” available at, stated:

“Pew Research Center recently released estimates of undocumented populations sorted by metro area, which The Marshall Project has compared with local crime rates published by the FBI. For the first time, there is an opportunity for a broader analysis of how unauthorized immigration might have affected crime rates since 2007.

A large majority of the areas recorded decreases in both violent and property crime between 2007 and 2016, consistent with a quarter-century decline in crime across the United States. The analysis found that crime went down at similar rates regardless of whether the undocumented population rose or fell. Areas with more unauthorized migration appeared to have larger drops in crime rates, although the difference was small and uncertain.

Most types of crime had an almost flat trend line, indicating that changes in undocumented populations had little or no effect on crime in the various metro areas under survey. Murder was the only type of crime that appeared to show a rise, but again, the difference was small and uncertain (effectively zero).”

May 13, 2019


Art Acevedo, Houston Police Chief, as quoted in a May 2, 2018 article by John Burnett, “Illegal Immigration Does Not Increase Violent Crime, 4 Studies Show,”, stated:

“There’s no wave of crime being committed by the immigrant community. As a matter of fact, a lot of the violent crime that we’re dealing with is being committed by people that are born and raised right here in the United States.

Having worked around this [undocumented immigrant] community my entire professional career, which is about 32 years, I know that the vast majority of them that I’ve encountered are hard-working. They’re here to earn an honest living.”

May 2, 2018


Aaron J. Chalfin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, in an undated blog post accessed on May 22, 2019 and titled, “Do Mexican Immigrants ‘Cause’ Crime?,” available at, stated:

“For those who are skeptical that these findings are true, consider the case of El Paso, Texas a working class city of approximately 700,000 people that sits opposite the Rio Grande river from Ciudad Juarez, one of the most violent and lawless cities in Mexico. More than 80% of El Paso’s residents are Hispanic and the vast majority of these individuals are of Mexican origin. A large population of El Paso’s Hispanic population are immigrants. In fact, El Paso has one of the highest proportions of immigrants among U.S. cities. Many of these migrants are undocumented. If those who fear Mexican immigration are right, then El Paso should be a hotbed of violence. As it turns out, El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States with a homicide rate of 2.4 per 100,000 residents. Just a tiny handful of American cities have a lower homicide rate and most of those that do (San Diego, Chula Vista, and Mesa, AZ, for example) also have outsize Mexican populations. Incredibly El Paso’s homicide rate is so low that it compares favorably to European capitals like London, Paris and Amsterdam, cities which have rates of lethal violence that are generally an order of magnitude lower than cities in the United States.

To summarize, while it is right for Americans to be concerned about the equality of the immigrants we attract, there is simply no evidence to support that Mexican immigration should be a cause for concern. If anything, there is quite a bit of evidence that the immigrants we attract from Mexico serve to make us safer than we otherwise would be.”

May 22, 2019


Walter A. Ewing, PhD, Senior Researcher at the American Immigration Council, Daniel E. Martinez, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and inaugural director of the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute at The George Washington University, and Ruben G. Rumbaut, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine, in a July 13, 2015 article “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States,” available at the American Immigration Council website, stated:

“Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million.

During the same period, FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48 percent—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41 percent, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.”

July 13, 2015


Rupert Murdoch, MA, Founder, Executive Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, in a July 12, 2015 pair of Twitter posts, available at, stated:

“Mexican immigrants, as with all immigrants, have much lower crime rates than native born. Eg El Paso safest city in U.S. Trump wrong.

So FBI says 267,000 illegal aliens incarcerated. Who are the other two million presently incarcerated? Seems like social breakdown.”

July 12, 2015


Jason L. Riley, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and Wall Street Journal contributor, in a July 14, 2015, article, “The Mythical Connection between Immigrants and Crime,” available at, stated:

“High-profile incidents, like the recent arrest of a Mexican national in the horrific shooting death of a young woman in San Francisco [Kathryn Steinle on July 1, 2015], can give the impression that immigrants are more likely to commit violent crimes. But the alleged killer is no more representative of Mexican immigrants than Dylann Roof is representative of white people.

Every immigrant here illegally has already broken a law, though that doesn’t mean they are predisposed to crime.”

July 14, 2015


David FitzGerald, PhD, Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, in a July 7, 2015 article, “This Proves Donald Trump Is Lying: Here Are the Actual Facts on Immigrants and Crime,” available at, stated:

“Here is what you need to know: [legal and undocumented] immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States…

The 2000 census shows that in all racial categories, immigrants are much less likely to be incarcerated than their U.S.-born counterparts. Men born in Mexico had an incarceration rate five times lower than the U.S.-born population as a whole…

If immigrants were disproportionately likely to commit crimes, we would expect to see higher crime rates when and where immigrants arrive. Yet the opposite holds true. From 1994 to 2007, the number of immigrants per capita living in the United States rose from about 9 to 13 percent of the population. At the same time, FBI reports show that the rate of violent crime declined 34.2 percent. The property crime rate fell 26.4 percent.

Cities with large immigrant populations such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York also experienced declining crime rates during this period. The 2008 California study found that cities with relatively larger inflows of immigrants between 2000 and 2005 tended to see lower rates of violent crime. Contrary to the image of crime spilling across the border, FBI records show that rates of murder and other violent crimes are lower in U.S. cities within 100 miles of the border. The lowest murder rate of any U.S. city over 500,000 is El Paso, Texas.”

July 7, 2015


Alex Nowrasteh, MSc, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, in a July 14, 2015 article, “Immigration and Crime – What the Research Says,” available at, stated:

“Both the Census-data driven studies and macro-level studies find that immigrants are less crime-prone than natives with some small potential exceptions. There are numerous reasons why immigrant criminality is lower than native criminality. One explanation is that immigrants who commit crimes can be deported and thus are punished more for criminal behavior, making them less likely to break the law.

Another explanation is that immigrants self-select for those willing to work rather than those willing to commit crimes. According to this ‘healthy immigrant thesis,’ motivated and ambitious foreigners are more likely to immigrate and those folks are less likely to be criminals. This could explain why immigrants are less likely to engage in ‘anti-social’ behaviors than natives despite having lower incomes. It’s also possible that more effective interior immigration enforcement is catching and deporting unlawful immigrants who are more likely to be criminals before they have a chance to be incarcerated.”

July 14, 2015


The Public Policy Institute of California, in a June 2008 “Just the Facts” publication, “Immigrants and Crime,” available at, stated:

“The incarceration rate for foreign?born adults [legal and undocumented] is 297 per 100,000 in the population, compared to 813 per 100,000 for U.S.?born adults. The foreign?born, who make up roughly 35% of California’s adult population, constitute 17% of the state prison population, a proportion that has remained fairly constant since 1990…

Among men ages 18?40, the foreign?born have an institutionalization rate of 420 per 100,000 in the population, compared to 4,200 per 100,000 for the native?born. The wider institutionalized population includes those in jails, halfway houses, and similar institutions where youths and others convicted of less serious crimes are housed.”

June 2008


Ruben G. Rumbaut, PhD, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and Walter A. Ewing, PhD, Research Associate at the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF), in a Spring 2007 Immigration Policy Center report entitled “The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation: Incarceration Rates among Native and Foreign-Born Men,” concluded that:

“Because many immigrants to the United States, especially Mexicans and Central Americans, are young men who arrive with very low levels of formal education, popular stereotypes tend to associate them with higher rates of crime and incarceration. The fact that many of these immigrants enter the country through unauthorized channels or overstay their visas often is framed as an assault against the ‘rule of law,’ thereby reinforcing the impression that immigration and criminality are linked. This association has flourished in a post-9/11 climate of fear and ignorance where terrorism and undocumented immigration often are mentioned in the same breath.

However, data from the census and other sources show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population. The problem of crime in the United States is not ’caused’ or even aggravated by immigrants, regardless of their legal status. But the misperception that the opposite is true persists among policymakers, the media, and the general public, thereby undermining the development of reasoned public responses to both crime and immigration.”

Spring 2007


John Hagan, PhD, Professor of Sociology and Law at Northwestern University, and Alberto Palloni, PhD, Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, in a Nov. 1999 Social Problems essay entitled “Sociological Criminology and the Mythology of Hispanic Immigration and Crime,” concluded that:

“Our sociological knowledge of crime is fragmented and ineffective in challenging and correcting mistaken public perceptions, for example, linking immigration and crime. These misperceptions are perpetuated by government reports of growing numbers of Hispanic immigrants in U.S. prisons…

[I]t is estimated that the involvement of Hispanic immigrants in crime is less than that of citizens. These results cast doubt on the hypothesis that immigration causes crime and make more transparent the immigration and criminal justice policies that inflate the rate of Hispanic incarceration.”

Nov. 1999