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Do immigrants commit more crimes?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2020 | Crimmigration

Over the past few years, several rumors have circled that noncitizens commit more crimes in America. Several news agencies and social scientists even conducted research to see the extent to which the statement proved true or false. Many may not tell you the full story unless you read beyond the headline.

In 2019, NBC News reported that immigrants made up the vast majority of federal arrests. It estimated that noncitizens accounted for 64% of federal arrests. However, the subtitle of the article also explains that this is not due to committing violent crimes. In fact, most of the arrests stemmed from immigration-related offenses.

Disproportionate arrests

Did you know that noncitizens only make up 7% of the U.S. population? In spite of this, these individuals made up 15% of all federal arrests made in 2018. From 1998 to 2018, immigration-related arrests climbed by 440%. NBC reports that 95% of that increase comes from immigration offenses.

How citizens compare

Contrary to what you may see in the media, American citizens still make up the vast majority of arrests for virtually all other types of crime:

  • 96% of weapons-related charges
  • 93% of violations of public charges
  • 91% of violent crimes

What to expect

In spite of these findings, immigrants continue to suffer from policing at higher rates than the general population. Hispanic immigrants may struggle with this more than others. However, Black immigrants may face similar biases as those affecting the American-born Black population.

Over-policing often carries into the justice system and may lead to harsher sentences. This, in turn, can create a cycle that becomes difficult to break.