Immigrant Crime Debate Heats Up Amid Lower Criminal Incidents

As the uproar around violent crime rates committed by illegal immigrants continues across the U.S., studies show contradictory statistics.

Criminal Case Launched Into the Spotlight

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Republican politicians, including former president Donald Trump, have launched the murder of Georgia nursing student Riley Lakens by a Venezuelan migrant into the spotlight as an example of “dangerous” criminals that are coming to the U.S. via the southern border.

At the Center of Political Debate

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Laken’s death sparked outrage and debate around immigrant crime rates and has taken center stage at some of the country’s foremost political events, including the State of the Union and Trump’s campaign visits to the U.S. border.

Immigrants Less Likely to Commit Crimes

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But despite ongoing claims that the Biden administration is encouraging violent criminals to enter the country through illegal immigration, studies show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than U.S.-born Americans.

Experts Weigh In

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Alexander Nowrasteh, an American immigration policy analyst, has spent decades studying this and related topics. 

Lower Criminal Conviction Rates

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According to his research on the topic from 2012 to 2022, homicide conviction rates amongst undocumented immigrants are 14% below that of Americans born in the United States. They also have a 41% lower overall criminal conviction rate.

Lower Across the Board

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Statistics for immigrants across the board showed an even greater difference. All immigrants, legal or otherwise, had a lower homicide conviction rate of 62%.

Data From Texas

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Most of the data analyzed by Nowrasteh comes from the Texas Department of Public Safety, which has the second-highest population of undocumented immigrants in the country.

University of Wisconsin Supports Findings

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According to sociology professor Michael Light, research carried out by the University of Wisconsin reflects very similar findings. 

Consistent Across All Offences

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“We looked at homicides, sexual assaults, violent crimes, property crimes, traffic and drug violations,” he explained. “And what we find across the board is that the undocumented tend to have lower rates of crimes with all of these types of offenses.”

Trump’s Visit to the Border

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Trump made headlines for referencing Lakens death during his visit to Texas border town Eagle Pass two weeks ago, where he told an audience that “Biden migrant crime” was to blame for her death. 

“Coming From Jails and Prisons”

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“They’re coming from jails and they’re coming from prisons and they’re coming from mental institutions and they’re coming from insane asylums and they’re terrorists,” he continued.

“They Don’t Accurately Convey Reality”

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“I don’t think that Trump’s statements accurately convey the reality of immigration,” Nowrasteh said when asked about the recent comments at the border. 

Death in Athens, Georgia

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The 22-year-old Lakens was killed near the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Georgia last month. An illegal immigrant from Venezuela named Jose Ibarra was charged with her murder. 

Topic For SOTU

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And Trump was not the only high-profile Republican politician to use Lakens death as a political talking point. Alabama Senator Katie Britt referenced Lakens during the Republican rebuttal at Thursday’s State of the Union address.

“This Could Have Been My Daughter”

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“She was brutally murdered by one of the millions of illegal border crossers President Biden chose to release into our homeland,” she said.

“Y’all … as a mom, I can’t quit thinking about this. I mean, this could have been my daughter. This could have been yours.”

Biden Speaks Out

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Biden also broke his silence, publicly acknowledging the incident for the first time during his SOTU address. “Laken Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. That’s right,” he said. 

“How Many Legals?”

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He also echoed the crime statistics brought out by Light and Nowrasteh, asking, “But how many thousands of people being killed by legals? To her parents, I say, my heart goes out to you, having lost children myself. I understand.”

Plea to Republicans

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The president also addressed the topic of illegal immigration, urging Republican lawmakers in Congress to help him pass a recently proposed bipartisan immigration and border bill.

Call for a Border Bill

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“I’m told my predecessor called members of Congress in the Senate to demand they block the bill,” he said, referencing his political rival Trump. “Send me the border bill now!” 

New Immigration Deal

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The bill is a compromise put together by a group of bipartisan senators, which will create a new border authority, tighten asylum rules, and create more pathways for legal immigration.

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