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Undocumented immigrants less likely to commit crimes, UW researchers find

Border Wall
Posted at 10:42 AM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 12:14:01-05

WISCONSIN  — In a new study, researchers at the University of Wisconsin have found that undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.

The researchers did a first-of-its-kind analysis of Texas arrest and conviction records.

What they found was U.S. citizens were "twice as likely to be arrested for violent felonies in Texas from 2012 to 2018, two-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested for felony drug crimes, and over four times more likely to be arrested for felony property crimes," according to the study by UW Madison.

"The population of people we deported simply were not a unique criminal risk. Removing them isn’t going to make you all that safer," said UW–Madison sociology professor Michael Light, who led the study.

There have been studies in the past that drew similar conclusions to Light's but he said those conclusions were less direct.

He told UW-Madison that "studies were limited to comparing crime rate trends to immigration trends because records matching crimes to the immigration status of perpetrators weren’t available."

The researchers also found that undocumented immigrants are much more likely to encounter local law enforcement than federal law enforcement.

Light said there are many reasons to expect a lower crime rate among undocumented immigrants.

“They have a tremendous incentive to avoid criminal wrongdoing. The greatest fear among undocumented immigrants is getting in legal trouble that leads to deportation."

Light also pointed out that it's difficult to illegally enter the U.S. so people who do likely have particular motives to succeed to find a new life.

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