Restrictionists Are Misleading You About Immigrant Crime Rates

Restrictionists are inflaming public opinion to justify a harsh crackdown


President Donald Trump never misses an opportunity to depict unauthorized immigrants—especially of the Hispanic variety—as "rapists and criminals." He

Deported People

did it again in his State of the Union address when he drew attention to two Long Island teenage girls killed by the El Salvadorian gang MS13. Those deaths are tragic, but they don't say much one way or the other about the propensity of these immigrants to commit crimes.

You wouldn't, however, know that from restrictionist pundits who are working overtime to sell the "illegal immigrants are criminals" narrative. A case in point is former US Civil Rights Commission member Peter Kirsanow's recent piece in National Review purporting to show that these immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than the native born. But Kirsanow uses incomplete and cherry-picked data—and makes rookie mistakes in interpreting it to boot—that eviscerate the credibility of his case.

Kirsanow is correct that most of the disagreements over the criminality of undocumented immigrants could be resolved by better data. But that doesn't absolve us from accurately reading the data we do have. Kirsanow, however, does not. His entire case is based on a gross misreading of the 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), a federal program that partially reimburses states and localities for the cost of incarcerating certain criminal aliens.

The SCAAP report shows that in 2009, there were 295,959 criminal aliens incarcerated in state and local prisons at any given time that year. From this number, he subtracts those in the country legally and assumes that the balance gives one the total number of illegal immigrants incarcerated that year. He compares that number with the population of illegals in various states to estimate their crime rates. Then he compares that rate with the crime rate of citizens to come up with a massively inflated "incarceration rate" of these aliens.

But here's the problem with his analysis:

Kirsanow assumed, as some others before him with only a passing familiarity with these databases, that the 295,959 figure refers to the number of individuals incarcerated. In fact, it is the total number of incarcerations. In other words, if a criminal alien was incarcerated for 10 short sentences, released after each one, and then re-incarcerated, then that single alien would account for 10 incarcerations under the SCAAP figure for that year. But Kirsnaow counts that as 10 individuals.

However, when it comes to estimating the incarceration rate of natives, Kirsanow compares the number of individuals incarcerated with their total population. This nonsensical apples-to-oranges comparison yields an exceedingly unfavorable "incarceration rate" for undocumented immigrants. Indeed, for three of the five states he examines, the undocumented incarceration rate is 10-100 points higher than the natives, when more credible studies show that the reality may be closer to the opposite.*

Kirsanow failed to appreciate that the purpose of the GAO report was to estimate the reimbursement that Uncle Sam owes state and local governments for incarcerating criminal illegal immigrants. Thus, the agency was only interested in the total number of incarcerations over the course of a year. It didn't care to separate out the number of offenses from the number of offenders. That is why the GAO report is nearly worthless for any scholarly attempt to estimate illegal immigrant crime rates.

A quick look at American Community Survey (ACS) data further confirms just how out-of-line Kirsanow's estimate is. (The ACS is an annual mini-census that, among other things, gathers information about prisoners in adult correctional facilities. It doesn't report on the broad legal status of immigrants but does indicate whether they are American citizens and their country of birth, making it possible to separate immigrants from Americans.)

For 2008, the ACS reported that there were 156,329 non-citizens incarcerated in all three—federal, state, and local—adult correctional facilities. This is only half of the 296,959 incarcerations that SCAAP reports in just state and local prisons making it logically impossible for the 296,959 figure to be referring to the total number of criminal aliens incarcerated.

Kirsanow is merely an individual whose analysis can be discounted. But there is no discounting the Alien Incarceration Report jointly released by the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS) last December. It too misrepresented data when it estimated that "one-in-five of all persons in the [federal] Bureau of Prisons custody were foreign born, and that 94 percent of confirmed aliens in custody were unlawfully present." That seems shockingly high as illegal immigrants are, at most, about 4 percent of the population. But if this report were right, they would be 19 percent of all prisoners.

But the report had no solid basis for its conclusion because it did not have all the prison data. If you scroll down beyond the report's press release and Summary of Findings, it admits as much. It notes:

This report does not include data on the foreign-born or alien populations in state prisons and local jails because state and local facilities do not routinely provide DHS or DOJ with comprehensive information about their inmates and detainees. This limitation is noteworthy because state and local facilities account for approximately 90 percent of the total U.S. incarcerated population. DHS and DOJ are working to develop a reliable methodology for estimating the status of state and local incarcerated populations in future reports.

Of course that didn't stop Fox News and other similar outfits from using it to peddle their "illegal immigrants are hardened criminal" line.

It is really important to bear in mind that the federal prison population is not representative of the incarcerated populations in state and local prisons. That's because federal prisons house illegal immigrants who commit immigration offenses. The ones who commit more serious crimes tend to be housed in state adult correctional facilities.

Only 85 total people who were convicted of murder were sentenced to federal prison in 2016. But the total number of murder convictions nationwide that year was 17,785. Clearly, only a small fraction of a percent of all murderers are incarcerated in federal prisons so most undocumented immigrants in these facilities are not hardened criminals.

As Kirsanow acknowledged, the government doesn't keep good data on illegal immigrant incarcerations in state correctional facilities. But the data we do have suggests that they are actually much less crime-prone than native-born Americans.

The Texas Tribune reported, after examining data obtained from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, that illegal immigrants are underrepresented in local jails. They are only 4.6 percent of Texas inmates while they make up 6.3 percent of that state's total population.

Some academic researchers have examined quasi-natural policy shifts to see how crime rates change due to more intense immigration enforcement. If illegal immigrants are more crime-prone, then more aggressive immigration enforcement in an area should lower crime rates. But they found no overall reduction. This suggests, at a minimum, that illegal immigrants' crime rate is no higher than that of the broader population.

More recent research conduced by Michelangelo Landgrave and me finds similar results. We applied a statistical technique that is used to figure out the employment, age, and occupations of immigrants in the census to the incarcerated population data in the American Community Survey. This allowed us to estimate the percentage of illegals among the incarcerated. We found that even if one includes in the mix those in detention facilities—most whom are there for immigration-related offenses—illegal immigrants are 44 percent less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans. Excluding those in immigration detention yields an incarceration rate that is almost identical to that of legal immigrants: A dramatic 69 percent lower than that of natives.

Restrictionists want the public to believe that undocumented immigrants are criminals in order to justify harsh enforcement policies and crackdowns. But before America goes down this draconian path, it is vital that it gets the facts straight. Taking amateur analyses or government spin at face value will hurt peaceful and hardworking immigrants without making Americans safer.

*CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, this sentence initially stated that the undocumented incarceration rate was higher in all the states examined. It is higher in three of the five.

NEXT: Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito Butt Heads Over the Fourth Amendment, Again

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  1. Zman understands these people, perfectly.

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  2. unauthorized immigrants...criminals.

    I believe the legal term is "illegal aliens". And, yes, they are criminals.

    "illegal immigrants are criminals" narrative

    "Illegal aliens". And yes they are.

    more likely to commit crimes

    They already have committed crime by nature of being "illegal aliens". Jeez...

    1. I prefer "invading barbarians".

      1. What is lost in all this debate is that 100% of legal humans, and 100% of illegal humans, are ALL sinners in the eyes of a wrathful Government Almighty! So comparing 100% to 100% is an exercise in silliness. "Three felonies a day" is a "thing"? Google it!

        Our only hope, then, is to humbly submit ourselves to Government Almighty, and pray without ceasing, for forgiveness!

        1. So this is why I am willing to lead us all in supplication...

          Scienfoology Song? GAWD = Government Almighty's Wrath Delivers

          Government loves me, This I know,
          For the Government tells me so,
          Little ones to GAWD belong,
          We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          My Nannies tell me so!

          GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
          Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
          Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
          And gives me all that I might need!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          My Nannies tell me so!

          DEA, CIA, KGB,
          Our protectors, they will be,
          FBI, TSA, and FDA,
          With us, astride us, in every way!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          My Nannies tell me so!

          1. I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

            This is what I do...

        2. Yup. We can't compare people because no one is perfect and some laws suck, so it doesn't matter if these guys broke this law. Totally makes sense.

          1. The brown-skinned ones must be sent back from whence they came, since they are un-invited invaders! BACK to Hispanistanistanistan, we say!

            So was it written?

            The vertebrates are un-invited invaders of the lands! BACK to the seas, with them!

            ? So shall it be done!

            The aerobic creatures are un-invited polluters of the atmosphere, belonging to the anaerobic ones? OFF with the aerobic creatures!

            So was it written?

            The organic life-forms are usurpers of inorganic carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and so forth? All of evolutionary progress was one BIG, giant mistake, since it is NOT a stable process, and leads to constant invasions and usurpations? BACK to the inorganic stage!

            ? So shall it be done!

            Ashes to ashes,
            Dust to dust,
            If we didn't have assholes,
            Our bodies would bust!

            1. The brown-skinned ones must be sent back from whence they came, since they are un-invited invaders! BACK to Hispanistanistanistan, we say!

              Glad you're admitting that these are shithole people from shithole countries.

              1. Please show us, on the doll...
                WHERE did the shithole people touch you?

                1. Please show us, on the doll...
                  WHERE did the shithole people touch you?

                  "Damn, why does the government keep getting bigger? It's a big fucking mystery!!"

            2. Yup. People with a property interest do not have a right to evict. Nations don't have a right to repel an invasion. Got it. Keep up the good Libertarian philosophy.

              1. So........ The United States is collectively owned property of it's citizens? We're a socialist country now?

                As for the invasion rhetoric.....actually, I don't need to go further, I think I covered what that is with the word "rhetoric."

                1. No one has said that all property in the US is collectively owned. We've covered this in countless other immigration threads.

                  People have the freedom to associate and form associations.
                  One type of association is the nation-state.
                  Nation-states are defined by geographical borders.
                  Nation-states own their borders.
                  Nation-states can determine who can cross those borders.

                  This is grade-school level political philosophy.

                  1. Nation-states can outlaw witches, and then torture, hang, and burn them. We know this from history. That does NOT make these things = wise things, for nation-sates to do.

                    1. I never gave an opinion on current US immigration law. I just acknowledged that these people have committed a crime. And my main point was about the language. I don't think we do ourselves any favors by not using proper legal terms. Also, sovereign countries are sovereign and can control their borders. The end.

            3. And now defending a property from tresspass and squatting has become the equivalent of a witch hunt. Man, just keep it up dude. You are really making libertarians look rational, reasonable, and mentally stable.

              1. Government Almighty prevents me (or tries to prevent me) from associating with the illegal humans, who might otherwise provide me affordable goods and services that lazy socialism-assisted Americans won't deliver to me. They are NOT violating me in any way, when they take care of my yard (etc.) for an affordable price... NO squatting going on! I have NOT had illegal humans trespassing on my property... As far as I know... For my whole freaking LIFE!!!

    2. Only violations of the NAP count as real crimes, though. Everything else is just breaking the King's petty rules.

      1. Countries don't have borders that can be violated?

    3. "They already have committed crime by nature of being "illegal aliens"."

      Yeah, that's kind of not the type of crime that is pertinent to this analysis.

      1. Well, since it makes them trespassers, they are in violation of the NAP, and that would be pertinent from the perspective of libertarian philosophy.

        1. Crossing a property line is an aggressive trespass. A border is not a property line. Try again.

          1. Do any of these border crossers own the land on the US side that they're crossing into? Asking for a friend.

            1. Admittedly no, but unless somebody shows me the deed of title in my name for a stretch of land in Texas next to the river, I can't act like I own it either. I don't consider borders meaningless (if you cross the border and steal or attack someone or whatnot, then absolutely your ass should be deported), but I don't see how the mere act of crossing the border without a bureaucrat's approval counts as "aggression." It's a victimless crime, like smoking weed or snorting crack. Most illegals are here for the same reason our ancestors came here: to make a better life in a society that offers more opportunity for the enterprising. I don't see why that should be punished in of itself.

          2. What is a border, Mark?

            1. Just that. A border. Not a property line. As I mentioned in another post, I don't consider borders meaningless. I don't identify as an "open borders" absolutist. If you cross the border and steal, or assault, I have absolutely no problem kicking your ass back the shithole from whence you came. But as for someone who's come over and become an otherwise productive and otherwise law abiding member of society, I don't see the harm. Residency in this country, or for that matter any country, is not a zero sum game, I don't see the aggression in just simply "being here" without the approval of an enlightened government bureaucrat.

              1. You haven't really answered the question. What is a border? How does it differ from a property line?

          3. "A border is not a property line"

            If the property across the line is not privately held it is publicly held. So yes a national border is a property line...

    4. Lock up all criminals.

      That includes drug users, escaped slaves, people in interracial marriages, children who can't pass the 'pencil test', and anyone who pays someone less than minimum wage or pays someone younger than 13 to do work.

      1. And then we can go further.

        We've already agreed that its legal to be on one side of a line but not the other without permission - and that's good for the country.

        Let's extend that. State borders. Californians can stay in CA and not immigrate to states like Texas and destroy the civilization Texans have built by importing their liberal ways.

        Then while we're at it, Counties. Those people in the Panhandle have more in common with fucking Oklahoma than real Texans, amirite?

        1. If only Texas would secede then we could! I'd move there in a heartbeat then... As it is being overrun by asshole Californians (I'm originally from there... But my family left to get away from it all, not recreate it!) and illegal Mexicans there's no way I would move there. It's probably going to go lefty in the next few election cycles, and I've already lived through that shit in Washington state... I'm moving to Idaho baby! That place has a solid couple decades before it will go commie.

    5. "I don't mind immigration; it's the 'illegal' I'm opposed to." That's like saying illegal drugs are bad because criminals sell them. The solution is simple. If the only objection you have to an activity is that it's illegal, make it legal.

  3. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, non-citizens receive 22 percent of all federal murder convictions, 18 percent of fraud convictions, 33 percent of money laundering convictions, 29 percent of drug trafficking convictions, and 72 percent of convictions for drug possession. Non-citizens, meanwhile, make up 7 percent of the population.

  4. Using newly released detailed data on all prisoners who entered the Arizona state prison from January 1985 through June 2017, we are able to separate non-U.S. citizens by whether they are illegal or legal residents. Unlike other studies, these data do not rely on self-reporting of criminal backgrounds. 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. Yet, there are several reasons that these numbers are likely to underestimate the share of crime committed by undocumented immigrants. There are dramatic differences between in the criminal histories of convicts who are U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants.

  5. How the Owner Class are Misleading You About Underprivileged Crime
    The Owner Class is inflaming public opinion to justify a harsh crackdown

    In this article on we will be inspecting how the underprivileged are good fine people, and how the evil, selfish owners are trying to turn public opinion against what they call "trespassers and squatters", denying them access to shelter and opportunity for a better life.

    1. "But Kirsanow uses incomplete and cherry-picked data."

      Your Kung-fu is weak!

      Anyways, back for he article. So I am to understand that we have no authoritative statistics available to sort through this conundrum and the only analysis available is from politically motivated individuals on both sides? Interesting.

      1. Nothing truly authoritative. I think we can try to piece together a relatively accurate picture if we look at the studies on both sides, analyze them carefully, and try to use them to reconcile each other.

      2. Local and state police department have resisted reporting statistics to the Feds for decades for a variety of reasons.

        So you are correct, we don't have solid data.

  6. Restrictionists are inflaming public opinion to justify a harsh crackdown

    It's a good thing Cato doesn't have any agenda to push.

  7. Seems like common sense to me that people who risk everything to come here would be less likely to commit a crime and get kicked out

    1. Not when they can come right back consequence free.

  8. Do the statistics really matter? Restrictionists can claim that one additional crime is too many, even if immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than natives. Lower rate still means more crimes (unless immigrants are taking "jobs" away from native criminals.

    1. It would be interesting to pit a "restrictionist" against a "pro-lifer" and see which one wins the "just one more crime is sufficient" argument.

      Every baby born represents a risk of "just one more crime."

  9. So if I understand the argument:

    "If adoption of Policy X would increase the utilization of the welfare state, then Policy X should not be adopted."

    Is that about right?

    So if I were to argue that, say, drug legalization would lead to more people on the dole, then we good fine libertarians should oppose drug legalization?

  10. In fact, is there any conceivable change in government policy, that would result in an increase in human liberty, that wouldn't also lead to an increase in people on the dole?

    Because when people are freer, there will always be a certain proportion of them who will abuse that liberty and wind up on welfare. Is the existence of that small minority of people who would abuse their liberty a sufficient justification for continuing to restrict everyone's liberty?

    That is essentially the gun-grabber's argument. That some people, with the liberty to own guns, will abuse that liberty and use guns to kill preschoolers, therefore, everyone's right to own a firearm ought to be curtailed. It's noxious when they use it and it's noxious when 'libertarians' use it in the context of immigration.

    1. You're confusing policies that have no basis in the constitution with policies that do.

      1. Nothing must stop chemjeff's pets from crossing the border! Millions of taco trucks and free/reduced lunch handouts are at stake!

        1. You aren't answering the question. Which is because, I think, it is the logical extension of the libertarian argument against immigration.

          Should the liberty to own guns be restricted because having widespread gun ownership would lead to additional public burdens?

          1. Immigrants have 2nd amendment protections?

            You see, that's why you're a joke poster and never taken seriously.

            1. If you say so. Not my fault if you cannot understand the argument being made.

            2. And if you want to get right down to it...

              If the right to keep and bear arms flows from a natural right of self-defense, then shouldn't all individuals enjoy this right?

          2. You aren't answering the question. Which is because, I think, it is the logical extension of the libertarian argument against immigration.

            Probably because your question is a stupid analogy, given the same people who placed the 2nd Amendment in the Constitution later passed a restrictive immigration law in 1790.

            1. Yet another deflection. Let's try again, shall we?

              If X may lead to an increase in utilization of the welfare state, then it is the libertarian's duty to oppose Policy X, right? That is the essential 'libertarian' argument that the closed border crowd throws around here. Right? So why is it true if "X" = so-called "open borders", but false if "X" = "individual right to keep and bear arms"? Or if "X" = "drug legalization"?

              I frankly don't think you believe your own arguments when it comes to the welfare state. I think you really don't give a damn if widespread gun ownership or legal drugs might lead to greater public burdens or more people on the dole. But you are happy to make that exact same argument when it comes to immigration. Hmm I wonder why?

              1. Yet another deflection. Let's try again, shall we?

                Nah, your stupidity doesn't need to be indulged.

                I frankly don't think you believe your own arguments when it comes to the welfare state. I think you really don't give a damn if widespread gun ownership or legal drugs might lead to greater public burdens or more people on the dole. But you are happy to make that exact same argument when it comes to immigration. Hmm I wonder why?

                Fuckin LOL at you arguing a hypothetical about "widespread gun ownership" leading to "greater public burdens" or "more people on the dole." This is why open-border-tards can't be taken seriously, because they don't live in the real world--you know, the one that's resulted an increasingly larger welfare state the more we continue import dirt-poor socialist immigrants.

  11. Studies show X results in more Y!!!!

    No! This study shows that X results in LESS Y!!!

    Your study is dumb. No, your study is dumb.

    Rinse, repeat, shout it out.

  12. "Restrictionists are inflaming public opinion to justify a harsh crackdown"

    And open-border extremists are warping public opinion with blatant propaganda to justify abdication of any immigration enforcement whatsoever.

    1. You say that "open-border extremists" use "blatant propaganda."

      Speaking of blatant propaganda... Democrats aren't "open border" kinda folks. (Remember that Obama guy that increased deportations and returns during his presidency?)

      So who are these "open-border extremists" you're referring to?

  13. "illegal immigrants are criminals". Engaging in illegal behavior does make one a criminal.

    1. You've probably gone past the speed limit once or twice. I do hope you are making preparations to self-deport, for the good of the community, as is your apparent standard.

      1. The consequences for speeding are a fine. So...Your analogy is kind of stupid.

        1. Entering the country without permission of an immigration officer also carries a fine (as a misdemeanor). The majority of "illegal immigrants" however are people overstaying visas, which is a mere civil offense.

          1. Yes, I think that all the illegal humans should pay a $25.00 fine, and call it square! Really, I do!

          2. Typical lefty lies, Tony.

            8 U.S. Code ? 1325 - Improper entry by alien
            (a) Improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection; misrepresentation and concealment of facts

            Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.

            The intended to overstay their visas and eluding immigration inspection. So the offenses are misdemeanors for first offense and felonies for subsequent offenses.

            1. Obvs. the most serious crime in the world and definitely the most important thing for libertarians to be concerned about right now.

              1. Admit it's a crime Tony. Admit it.

                It doesn't matter how serious the crime is to your claim that its not a crime. Because it is a crime.

          3. The best estimate is 40%, Tony. The other 60% entered illegally. That's a vast majority.

  14. 100% of illegal aliens have committed at least one crime.

    There's no way around this.

    You may want to try to alter definitions so that crime goes away, or is so minimized as to, in your eyes, be meaningless.

    But it's still there

    To survive in the US as an illegal alien more crimes usually become necessary Like identity theft. That one's a lot harder to rationalize away for the general public.

    Fraud goes with that one.

    And those are just the crimes one needs to commit to have a life that resembles a normal life.

    1. Identity theft? Do you even know what the fuck you're talking about, or can we move on from dancing around the real subject? It's exhausting.

      1. He's probably referring to people using social security numbers that aren't theirs in order to work illegally. He fails to realize that this has benefits that probably outweigh the negatives.

        He definitely fails to realize that this doesn't change the fact that the better solution (at least in the opinion of people he's trying to convince) is to decrease restrictions on immigration and migrant workers rather than dump billions of dollars into government policing and other nefarious activities on part of the state.

    2. Really? You have to understand that this is not a convincing argument. It's meaningless to parade around the fact that someone has broken a law, when the validity of the law is precisely what we're debating. Pointing out the fact that the idiocy of the current law also sometimes requires other illegal activity, because of its own idiocy, doesn't help the case either.

      1. 8 U.S. Code ? 1325 - Improper entry by alien

        Entering the USA unlawfully and overstaying your visa on purpose are crimes.

        1. Allow me to copy and paste.

          Really? You have to understand that this is not a convincing argument. It's meaningless to parade around the fact that someone has broken a law, when the validity of the law is precisely what we're debating. Pointing out the fact that the idiocy of the current law also sometimes requires other illegal activity, because of its own idiocy, doesn't help the case either.

          1. You call it meaningless violations of the law and that might be. It still does not change the fact that the USA is a nation of laws.

            If everyone gets to choose what laws to obey then we become a shithole.

            if you don't like a law you have some choices in the USA: Follow the law, get the law repealed or changed, ignore the law and suffer any consequences, fight the law by getting arrested and appeal it, and/or successfully start a revolution.

            Get back to me on what you will do. I really want to know.

            1. These are two separate issues. As for the first issue, I think current immigration laws are too restrictive.

              As for the second issue, I don't know what should be done with people who are caught for violating wrong-headed laws. What do you think should be done with people who are caught breaking wrong-headed laws?

              1. I'm going to guess that it depends on whether the wrong-headed laws meet conservative or liberal goals and how LC1789 identifies politically.

      2. We're not debating the validity of immigration law--or the validity of any law.

        The article is about whether illegal aliens commit crimes at a higher rate than native born or legal immigrant citizens.

        And it appears that yes, they do.

        That's all.

        Whether or not they should be allowed to wander freely across the border into the US is another conversation entirely.

        Interestingly, whether WE should be allowed to wander free across any border is a question that gets answered--by everyone else in the world, with a resounding 'no'. But no one seems to mind.

        1. You make one of the best points that is often never mentioned.

          I rarely hear any open border person to change the law or repeal it. They tend to say ignore the law, it does not apply to "x" immigrants, or FEELZ for the immigrants.

          Too bad the Democrats were spending all their political capital on ObamaCare instead of changing immigration law when they had a majority on Congress and the presidency.

        2. You'd understand how this works if only you would admit your racial guilt. Once you have freed yourself of white privilege, and atoned for the sins of the white race, then all of this will make sense.

        3. The article is about whether illegal aliens commit crimes at a higher rate than native born or legal immigrant citizens.

          And it appears that yes, they do.

          By your own logic, then, there shouldn't be any studies trying to show that illegal immigrants commit crimes more often than others. This reveals the complete unhelpfulness and pedantry of your point--that someone who has broken a law has broken a law.

          1. I didn't write the article.

            One of yours did.

            They keep writing these articles, trying to convince people that illegal aliens, who have obviously all committed at least one crime, commit less crimes than natives or legal immigrants.

            Over and over they write these pieces--there are at least two more on Reason since this one was posted.

            Why? Because they're trying to drown out the fact that they're losing the debate in the court of public opinion. These types of articles are what you do when you're losing.

            The other side, unsure of itself and used to being on the losing side, is issuing the same lame rebuttals they always do. They have no clue that they just might come out on top for a change--that a secure 'wall' with large, well maintained and monitored gates might actually be possible.

            Immigration reform that doesn't fuck someone over. Wouldn't it be nice?

            1. "Immigration reform that doesn't fuck someone over. Wouldn't it be nice?"

              Yes. Because Prohibition is sure to work this time! Amirite?

              1. Says the dumbshit who's never lived in a barrio.

              2. See, you simple folk don't grasp that 'high wall, big gates' doesn't mean prohibition.

                It means more legal immigrants, fewer illegal immigrants.

                But you keep shouting 'restrictionist!' and 'prohibition!' as you lobby for the Democrats status quo--the one that insures the perpetuation of an illegal underclass that they can torture because the Republicans stopped them from torturing black people.

                Because there is simply no sense in opposing 'stop the flood of illegal immigrants and make it easier to legally immigrate' if you actually believe the things you claim to believe.

  15. Illegal Immigration is directly responsible for the rise of MS13 in the US. I don't think that is even debatable.

    1. Trump is directly responsible for the right of white nationalist right-wing violence. Deport Trump!

      1. Hi I'm Tony, the only way my argument works is to pretend the consequence for every wrong is deportation, otherwise I look like a giant asshole.

        1. I'll treat this conversation with the seriousness it deserves until someone grows a pair of nuts and admits to what the real subject here is. (It's not a steadfast concern for lawfulness.)

        2. Well that and everyone is a racists except Democrats who started the KKK, Jim Crowe laws and fought for slavery.

          1. No those guys were pretty big racists.

            1. You're a racist too Tony. You don't like those unsoiled masses. You want government to tell them what to do and give them welfare for their cooperation.

              Lefties created affirmative action, public housing, segregated schools and the KKK.

              1. And you're a true history buff.

                1. It easy Tony. You type into Google or whatever search engine you want: Democrats/lefties and racism.

                  All sorts of links come up.

                  You lefties cannot hide from history and it makes you so mad. If only US companies could be forced to delete data like in Europe.

  16. Every illegal immigrant has broken federal law.

    They have a 100% violation of US law rate.

      1. I know YOU want it to be false but its not.

    1. Re: loveconstitution1789,

      Every illegal immigrant has broken federal law.

      So has every American, going by what laws are in the Federal Register.

      But please, showcase your lack of awareness. It's so funny! Let me bring a tub of popcorn first... hold on...


      1. Which Old Mexican sockpuppet are you?

        You goofballs crack me up.

        Your posts get Reason more money which in turn is used for Libertarian-ish projects. Yet you are here to showcase lefty narratives. Its genius tactics. You must keep it up.

  17. I don't think that it is a very big secret that anti-illegal-humans types are usually in favor of EXTREMELY small numbers of immigrants being allowed in the first place, and, make them wait forever? You want into the USA? Put in your paperwork, and be prepared to wait 20 or 70 years? Which is about meaningless.

    They are like California liberals, who build their HUGE mansions with a good view of the ocean? And then vote for building restrictions on the NEW guys, AFTER they have built THEIR mansions!

    Many of us want the rug welcome mat pulled up, AFTER we or our ancestors came here! Oh, yes, I know? The Native Americans didn't have European-style flags, they had totem poles and what-not, and they didn't have written laws about possessing their lands, they had verbal agreements only, so they had NO laws we are in need of respecting.

    The fauna of North and South America? When humans (so-called "Native" Americans) first invaded and started killing the animals, they (the animals) had not even so much as oral agreements about their possession of the lands? So again, no rights were violated. Even though you can BET that they didn't like to be killed and eaten!

    When the Space Aliens invade, and make us intop their slaves and take our lands? Because they have NO need to respect OUR laws, our laws NOT being micro-encoded into dilithium crystals? I do NOT want to hear yer bitching!

    1. Let us know when you fuck off back to the land of your ancestors, shitlib.

  18. "Some academic researchers have examined quasi-natural policy shifts to see how crime rates change due to more intense immigration enforcement. If illegal immigrants are more crime-prone, then more aggressive immigration enforcement in an area should lower crime rates. But they found no overall reduction. This suggests, at a minimum, that illegal immigrants' crime rate is no higher than that of the broader population."

    But this doesn't suggest that all. All this shows is that a particular program wasn't effective in reducing crime rates. It would be the equivalent of saying "If you were really hungry, you would have been full after I gave you this cracker. Therefore you weren't really hungry." Even the authors of those papers certainly don't view their results as definitive proof that illegal immigrant crime isn't a problem, because that isn't exactly what their papers were designed to prove.

  19. These immigration article comments make me long for a good abortion thread

    1. That's because Trumpistas are anti-life. Not pro-abortion, just anti-life: anti-free trade, anti-immigration, even when immigrants are being invited in (yes, even the "illegulz!" are invited in) by THE MARKET. They're against people having babies. No, really, they don't want anyone to have babies... if they come from the "wrong countries".

      Ergo: they're anti-life.

      They are also quite unsophisticated when it comes to statistics. Economic theory explains that the incentives to immigrate would make the opportunity cost of committing crimes much higher than for a person who enjoys the non-risk of being deported, i.e. being a native-born. So how in fuck's name can you say with a straight face that immigrants are more predisposed to commit crimes than people who do NOT risk deportation? Are these Trumpistas making the claim that immigrants are not human beings with a mind and a will?

      This is what happens when people fall into the empiricism trap when talking about Human Action. It never occurs to Trumpistas that statistics cannot disprove economic theory, that they should question the logic behind any assessment that purports to redefine reality. It's absurd.

      1. Pre-disposed? No.

        It's just that there are a host of crimes one has to commit to stay here illegally. That's just a fact.

        1. It's just that there are a host of crimes one has to commit to stay here illegally.

          A "host of crimes"?

          Ha ha ha ha!

          YOU already commit a "host of crimes" every week. All Americans do. That's the direct result of letting the state criminalize a host of peaceful and voluntary activities that hurt no one, including migrating in, or plucking chickens, or writting the wrong things on the Internet, etc.

  20. I'm reminded of that article a few weeks back about how people really *do* consider new evidence and change their minds, that three "backlash event" was itself a myth, and so-on.

  21. Kirsanow may have misinterpreted data, but John Lott's recent study seems to back up the "restrictionists" (and Trump's) claim that illegal immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than legal immigrants or native born US citizens.

    1. John Lott is an ethically challenged researcher who is more famous for his gun research. His studies have been debunked. His data is sometimes manufactured. He claims peer review when his studies have been rejected. He's been caught failing to report significant findings of his own that contradict his own analysis.

  22. Alex Nowratesh: I just read the NR article and your main critique...repeated incarcerations inflating the stats for illegal immigrants relative to everyone else...does not look correct.

    In the article, Kirsanow computes the incarceration rates for both illegals and non the same way. It is not apparent how it matters if he uses the total number of times an incarceration happened or the number of individuals incarcerated, as long as he computes it the same way for both groups. Which he does. They seem like as valid stats as any.

    Do illegals get repeat incarcerations at a wildly different rate than everyone else ? You would have to show us so to truly shoot Kirsenow down. Or am I missing something ?

    1. Here's the quote from the OP:
      "The SCAAP report shows that in 2009, there were 295,959 criminal aliens incarcerated in state and local prisons at any given time that year. From this number, he subtracts those in the country legally and assumes that the balance gives one the total number of illegal immigrants incarcerated that year. "

      You're making the claim that if he uses the same techniques for both legal and non in the same way then, given similar repeat incarcerations for both cohorts, the math issues washes out and you end up with a reasonable result. If you're doing basic averages, maybe that would work out. But notice here that he's not doing a simple division; he's taking total number of incarcerations for all immigrants and subtracts out the number of legal individuals (not incarcerations by individuals) and uses the remainder as the number of illegal individuals. You can't subtract "distinct people" from "repeat incarcerations" and get a remainder of "distinct people."

      He's subtracting apples from oranges and getting bananas, basically.

      1. ah, ok, missed that. thanks.

      2. Ok, so I still don't get it.

        First, the Reason article claims he subtracts LEGAL immigrants from the SCAAP totals, but in fact he subtracts ILLEGAL immigrants. From the NR article, using the California paragraph:

        California: In California, there were 28,030 inmates incarcerated for homicide and related offenses (first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, and vehicular manslaughter) in December 2009. Using GAO's 2008 estimate, there were approximately 2,430 illegal aliens imprisoned in California for homicide and related offenses. The total population of California was approximately 37 million, and the illegal alien population was approximately 2.5 million. Applying the same analysis as above, this yields an estimated rate of 97.2 illegal aliens imprisoned for homicide and related offenses per 100,000 illegal aliens, and 74.1 citizens and legal residents imprisoned for homicide and related offenses per 100,000 citizens and legal residents.

        According to the Reason article, its the SCAAP figures that count multiple incarcerations. Therefore, best I can tell NR does indeed do the analysis wrong, but in a way that radically UNDERSTATES immigrant incarceration. In the example above, the 2,430 illegals imprisoned is understated vs legal residents, because it does not count multiple incarcerations.

        Again, am I missing something ? I concede I don't fully understand either database, and fell asleep attempting to read them in depth.

  23. Ugh. First off, I'm part beaner on my moms side. If I can look at this shit objectively, so should anybody else.

    You want to know an easy way to hash this out? Look at federal crime stats by race/ethnicity. Hispanics, presumably legal and illegal, commit crimes at higher rates than any group, other than blacks. Murder, rape, assault, all of them.

    So I find it highly difficult to believe that illegals are much different from the Hispanic community overall. I would assume worse since they're poorer and less educated.

    If they end up better than the "average" of the US overall that's only because the average includes the outrageously high numbers of crimes committed by black people. If you compare to whites/Asians they commit waaaaay more crime. So in short, unless you want to set the bar at "Do they commit fewer crimes than black people in Detroit and Chicago?" then the answer is YES, they do commit more crimes. If Detroit is your bar, you should have higher standards.

    I have lots of anecdotal evidence from growing up in California too. The last town we lived in was all whites and Mexicans, no blacks. There were zero white kids in gangs of any sort. But there were a ton of Mexican gangstas. Most were illegal. If there were no illegal Mexicans, there would have been no gangs. Pretty straight forward.

    1. People SEE this shit with their own eyes, and they don't like it. You can't fool people by telling them their neighborhood didn't go to shit when 15 Mexicans started living in a 3 bedroom house. They know it did. The whole state of California has gone to shit largely because of this.

      I don't believe in open borders, and I don't believe people have the right to move wherever they want in the world. I think the Japanese people retain their right to tell me I can't move there. Mexico retains that right too. SO DO WE. This shit is nothing but white guilt. There are lots of practical reasons to be against low skill immigration in the 21st century. We do not have an obligation to turn our country into a shithole because our ancestors were more badass than other peoples ancestors and conquered them. It was wrong, but it happened. This is now, not then.

      We can't save the whole world, so ruining our country trying to is a futile effort. Other countries need to get their shit together if they want a better life. We can't just hand it to them all, we don't have that much wealth to squander. China is doing just fine at this. Honestly so is most of Latin America. We forget that they're actually some of the richest countries in the WORLD per capita. They're poor by our standards, but not by world standards.

    2. All of these low skill immigrants have lower incomes, don't support themselves in taxes (just like native poor), mostly don't value freedom, and on and on. If you import people that are all destined to be well below the US average, like all Hispanics, that lowers the average for everybody. This has consequences.

      Now these poor people need to have their kids schooling subsidized by the guy who has a good job. The roads need to be subsidized by him too. And national defense. And on and on. Poor people put a strain on everybody else in our big government system. It's unavoidable.

      So WHY IN GODS NAME would you intentionally let in a bunch of people that are 100% guaranteed to not even be self sustaining? Literally every single one is going to be a larger drain on the tax base. Every. Single. One. Whereas if you only allow in doctors, engineers, programmers, etc they're all a net positive for other tax payers, because they pay for themselves and then some in our current system.

      I don't buy open borders as a right anybody has. And for practical reasons it's destined to destroy a 1st world country if it goes too far. Every incremental step towards that is one of a death of a thousand cuts. We might not collapse at 500 cuts, but it ain't helping anything. So says the part beaner-German hybrid. Or beaner schnitzel as I was dubbed by HS buddies.

    3. Also, just to add in, if somebody wants to believe in an absolute right of free movement internationally based on libertarian principles... I get it. I understand the argument. It's obvious.

      But SERIOUSLY?! We have a million rights being pissed on. Look at the real world consequences. You can hold a principle, and still be willing to compromise it in the real world. I'm like that with lots of libertarian principles. I get that X is the total libertarian win... But X-Y+Z=Acceptable compromise in the real world. Get me?

      It is painfully obvious that every single one of these people, on average, is going to vote for the exact opposite of freedom. It's been like this for decades, and will not change anytime soon. They'll be a drain on taxes. Etc.

      And my biggest reason, is it's not like we're murdering people by not letting them move here. They still get to stay in their home country and live with their family, friends, etc. It's not exactly torture. You guys make it out like it's murder to NOT let them in. If that's the case then we can't rightly deny ANY of the 7 billion people to come in, because it's basically murder. Which is fucking retarded.

      So if you're going to fight for something on principle, fight for legalizing crack or something! At least that won't completely destroy our civilization. Now is not the time for open borders. Maybe someday... MAYBE. But not today. Winning this fight would lose us every other fight. Do you people have no concept of strategy???

  24. What a load of rubbish. It's not the crime per se, as stated earlier, they are already criminals by virtue of their being in the country illegally. It's the fact that, according to the US government's own data, 62% of immigrants are on government handouts.

    Milton Freieman highlighted that you can't have open boarders and welfare programmes. A position Reason does not agree with, but the majority of tax payers do. I fail to see why Reason doesn't understand that the current system acts as a tool to fund political corruption via packing the voter rolls by transfer payments through the federal government.

    The issue is NOT crime, the issue is the use of immigration to create a voting block to force 'big government' upon those of us who will be the ones paying for it. It's corruption, plane and simple.

  25. You mean they're lying.

  26. I'm generally sympathetic to more, but vetted as not terrorists, not having anti-American attitudes, and who will work and contribute to society. Nowrasteh can show immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, but that doesn't mean:

    Better immigrants would commit even less crime
    Better immigrants wouldn't be as much a welfare burden (and really shouldn't be any burden)
    If people are unhappy with immigration law, they should change it
    We're a nation of laws and they should be enforced or changed

    Heck, I want better immigrants (and they exist) that are a lot better than giving amnesty to those who broke the law to get and stay here, and better than the people in the USA as well.

  27. Note to stupid, Libertarian, open-borders absolutists: Mexican and South American immigrants are not libertarians, they're borderline Chavistas. Just because someone is fleeing totalitarian oppression does not mean they support liberty, just that they lost out on who was going to be the totalitarian and have to move somewhere else.

    1. Very few people are what you'd call "open-border absolutists." And you're the one who's stupid if you think Libertarians only want freedom for people who think like they do. That's the credo of the Republicans.

  28. "Misleading"? Is that what we're calling lying nowadays? Can't you just see yourself in court, "No your honor, I didn't lie to the police about my whereabouts on the night in question, I merely 'misled' them." Still lying.

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