To the editor: There’s one way to reduce crime drastically, but it will never be tried. And it shouldn’t be, under any circumstance. It is completely ill-advised because it would be unfair to many innocent people. Still, if the only consideration were to reduce crime, such a plan would definitely achieve the objective, even though it would be unjust to implement.
Here’s how my hypothetical plan would operate: Starting now, for every legal and illegal immigrant who comes into our country in a given year, we would deport an equivalent number of American-born citizens. See? It’s easy to understand why such a process is morally wrong. But why would it work? Read on.
Recent studies have unambiguously concluded that immigration, legal or otherwise, does not lead to rising crime rates (i.e., studies done by the CATO Institute, the journal Criminology, the University of Massachusetts, the Public Policy Institute of California and the University of California published by the Police Foundation, among others).
In fact, a number of studies found that “native-born residents were much more likely to be convicted of a crime than immigrants who were in the country legally or illegally.” In addition, the studies agreed that “states with larger shares of undocumented immigrants tended to have lower crime rates than states with smaller immigrant populations in the years from 1990 through 2014, and that undocumented immigration does not result in increased violent crime.”
Of course, a plan to deport American-born citizens would be as unrealistic as a plan to deport all illegal immigrants. The difference in outcomes, however, if either were actually possible to implement, are noteworthy. Based on study results, deporting American-born citizens and replacing them with immigrants, legal or illegal, would reduce crime. Deporting immigrants would not.
And to the Pavlovian Trumpists who are already typing a rebuttal falsely stating that I am espousing open borders, I state categorically that I, like most people, strenuously oppose open borders. I’m not arguing for open borders. I’m arguing instead for open minds that can accept this fact: immigration, legal or otherwise, does not lead to rising crime rates.
Yes, there are many good reasons for setting immigration limits and strengthening our laws to make our immigration system fair, safe and reasonable. But it is a specious claim that doing so will reduce crime rates because immigrants are more criminal than the rest of us. The plain fact is that statistics show us they are less so.