Despite Trump’s speech, immigrants commit far fewer crimes than native-born Americans

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Donald Trump.
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Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump called on the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to documents crimes committed by immigrants.

In an emotional address to Congress, Trump proposed VOICE -short for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement – to publish a regular repository of crimes committed by anyone who has ever moved to the US.

While Trump’s rhetoric focused on the goal of keeping communities safe from horrific attacks like the one in which 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was killed by an undocumented immigrant in 2015, there’s a glaring problem.

While some immigrants certainly commit crimes, decades-worth of data indicate that immigrants commit far less and are far less likely to commit crime than native born Americans. Immigrants are also highly unlikely to commit acts of terrorism.

Here’s what studies show:


Native-born Americans are incarcerated at a much higher rate than immigrants.

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Immigrants were much less likely to commit most violent crimes.
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Skye Gould/Business Insider

While the US’s immigrant population has grown by more than 5 % over the last 25 years, violent crime has dropped dramatically, according to a 2015 report by the American Immigration Council, a

The foreign-born share of the US population has grown from 7.9% in 1990 to 13.1% in 2013. During the same period, FBI data shows that the violent crime rate has dropped 48%. That includes murer, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

The 2010 American Community Survey found that, over the last three decades, around 1.8% of immigrant males between 18-39 are incarcerated on average, compared with 3.3% of native-born males of the same age.

“This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses,” a 2015 updateto an analysis of Census Bureau and crime rate statistics said. “In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.”

A study from the Pew Research Center found that first generation adolescent immigrants are almost ten % less likely to commit crimes than those who were born in the country – and while their children’s crime rates rise to match those of non-immigrant peers, they never surpass them. An older report by a federally-funded criminal justice agency also found no link between immigration and crime.


Native-born Americans commit a lot more crime than immigrants

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Citizens outnumbered immigrants for almost all violent crimes in 2015.
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Skye Gould/Business Insider

A report by the Sentencing Commission found that out of the 91 murders examined in 2015, 11 were committed by both legal aliens and illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, more than 95% of sexual assault cases examined were commited by native-born Americans.