BUFFALO — The prevalence of crime among immigrants remains a heated topic of debate in America between political parties, but an extensive study finds fears may not be justified. A recent analysis of data going back 40 years concludes that an influx of immigrants into a given community is not correlated with an increase in crime.
Led by Robert Adelman, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Buffalo, the researchers published their findings in the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice.
“Our research shows strong and stable evidence that, on average, across U.S. metropolitan areas crime and immigration are not linked,” Adelman says in a release. “The results show that immigration does not increase assaults and, in fact, robberies, burglaries, larceny, and murder are lower in places where immigration levels are higher. The results are very clear.”
Prior research had found that, as a whole, immigrants have committed crime to a lesser extent than native-born Americans. This research aimed to examine the statistics on a deeper level.
Rather than looking at what immigrants did directly, Adelman et al. wanted to examine whether the potential displacement that foreigners caused average Americans— such as by taking their jobs— led to an uptick in crime in the community.
Using Census and FBI data from 200 metropolitan areas throughout the U.S., the research examined the period from 1970 to 2010.
Despite some political pundits arguing otherwise, the study’s authors firmly concluded that “the empirical evidence in this study and other related research shows little support for the notion that more immigrants lead to more crime.”
Adelman seeks to clarify that his study does not “claim that immigrants are never involved in crime.”
Rather, “in many cases, crime was either stable or actually declined in communities that incorporated many immigrants.”
Although Adelman calls for continued research into immigration and crime, this study not only reaffirms the fact that immigrants are usually law-abiding citizens, but that they can contribute immensely to a country’s social and economic well-being.