We’ve long known that President Donald Trump’s talking point of undocumented immigrants causing a surge of crime in their U.S. communities is baseless. However, a new analysis from the Marshall Project and the New York Times illustrates just how false this line really is.
The outlets determined that a metropolitan area’s growth in undocumented immigrants has no correlation with higher rates in local violent and property crime.
Comparing new undocumented population estimates by metro area from the Pew Research Center to local crime rates published by the FBI, the report found that a large majority of metro areas reported decreases in violent and property crime between 2007 and 2016.
Their analysis found that a metro area’s crime decreased at similar rates regardless of whether an undocumented population rose or fell. In fact, areas with more undocumented people appeared to have larger drops in crime rates, though the Marshall Project noted the difference was “small and uncertain.”
Even when separated by category into assaults, robberies, burglaries, and larcenies, the analysis showed that changes in an undocumented population had little or no effect on the crime rate itself. The murder analysis was the only type of crime that showed a rise, though the difference was effectively zero, the Marshall Project concluded.
While getting a definite count on the number undocumented people living in the country is never easy, the Pew Research Center derived their figures from Department of Homeland Security and Census Bureau data, subtracting DHS counts of legal-status immigrants from the Bureau’s overall count of foreign-born people in about 180 metropolitan areas between 2007 and 2016. The Marshall Project then calculated three-year averages of violent and property crime rates and the change in those rates to compare to the Pew data.
This analysis is just one of many showing that immigrants—including undocumented immigrants—don’t contribute to an increase in crime in their communities, or aren’t more prone to criminality because they’re deportable. It also follows another analysis the Marshall Project did last year on crime rates and immigrants overall, which found that on average, as immigration increases, crime decreases.