The recent DC Mansion Murders case has fanned opposition to immigration on the grounds that immigrants commonly commit crimes.
However, as Niskanen Center immigration policy analyst Dave Bier writes today in The Hill, concerns over immigrant crime are overblown and that any valid concerns would be better addressed by altering enforcement priorities.
In anti-immigrant circles immigrants are portrayed as likely criminals. But government data show that immigrants have a lower incarceration rate than native-born Americans and are generally less likely to commit crimes. These facts explain why immigrant-heavy communities have lower crime rates.
The ’90s saw a spike in immigration yet a record drop in violent crime. From 1990 to 2013 the foreign-born population jumped from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent. During that time the violent-crime rate fell from about 750 offenses per 100,000 people to under 400. Property crime fell by a dramatic 43 percent. We may never know how much of this is attributable to immigrants, but it’s clear that immigration is not causing a crime wave.
The alleged perpetrator of the DC Mansion Murders, Daron Wint, is the exception not the rule.
In his piece, Bier makes a case for more targeted immigration enforcement. He argues:
“Opponents of immigration reform blame the Mansion Murders on lax enforcement of our immigration laws under the Obama administration, yet the killings actually support the case that immigration advocates have been making for years: that enforcement should focus on those who harm the person or property of others.”
Resources are squandered when enforcement of immigration laws focuses on mothers and children, deportations for mere traffic violations, and apprehensions of peaceful immigrants hoping to work in the United States.
The Mansion Murders case emphasizes the need for law-enforcement attention on citizens and noncitizens who are violent and likely to harm Americans. Criminalizing immigration is not the solution to preventing another case like this. Targeted enforcement is.
Bier concludes that “a better immigration system would better protect America.”
You can view the full piece here.