Ronald Bailey: Criminal Immigrants?


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Do immigrants commit more than their share of crimes? Most Americans think so. In a 2010 poll conducted for KSL-TV in Utah, 62 percent of respondents "definitely" or "probably" agreed that illegal immigrants are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime. Asked whether "more immigrants cause higher crime rates" in the National Opinion Research Center's 2000 General Social Survey, 25 percent of respondents said this was "very likely" and an additional 48 percent answered "somewhat likely." And a 2007 poll conducted on behalf of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice reported that 62 percent of Americans associate illegal immigration with higher crime rates.

The criminality of newcomers to America's shores is a sticking point in the immigration debate, one that anti-immigrant think tanks such as the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform often return to. Just one problem: It's not real, according to Ronald Bailey.