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Another Study Finds No Link Between Undocumented Immigration And Increased Crime

A new study adds to the growing evidence that cities with more undocumented immigrants don’t see more crime because of them.

This latest study, recently published in the Journal of Crime and Justice, looked at more than 150 metro areas, including cities like Salt Lake, Denver, Las Vegas and Boise. It found that, on average, undocumented immigrant populations didn’t have an effect on an area’s violent crime rates. In fact, the evidence suggests the presence of undocumented immigrants actually decreased the rates of property crime.

"Immigration is often tied to crime, often unfairly, because the science at the community levels doesn’t support this conclusion that more immigrants bring more crime," said Robert Adelman, an expert on racial and urban equality at the University at Buffalo, who led the study.

While there is a growing body of evidence that undocumented immgration doesn’t mean more crime (including some of Adelman’s own work in 2017), this study is different in its use of metro-level immigrant population esitamtes from Pew Research and the Migration Policy Institute.

Adelman’s research doesn’t look at individual actors, but broader community-level trends. He said “individuals from all social groups commit crimes. That’s part of social life ... In the overall picture in the scholarship is that where there are more immigrants, undocumented or overall, there’s often less crime on average.”

Adelman also noted that immigration “often benefits areas because there’s often social and economic vitality and revitalization and population growth and all those things that enrich communities ... Although that’s not what we studied here, that’s an important point to get from the larger literature or scholarship.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News

Madelyn Beck is a regional Illinois reporter, based in Galesburg. On top of her work for Harvest Public Media, she also contributes to WVIK, Tri-States Public Radio and the Illinois Newsroom collaborative.
Madelyn Beck
Madelyn Beck is Boise State Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. She's from Montana but has reported everywhere from North Dakota to Alaska to Washington, D.C. Her last few positions included covering energy resources in Wyoming and reporting on agriculture/rural life issues in Illinois.
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