Many people often wonder if immigrants are responsible for a rise in crime rates. Recent political discord and a return to the focus on immigration by members of the media have caused people to question how immigrants impact the safety of communities where they reside. There was a recent poll conducted by Gallup showing that over fifty percent of Americans believe immigrants do cause crime rates to increase. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is a very respected institution. It released a report last month that indicated just the opposite. This report showed the areas where immigrants reside in major American cities actually have lower crime rates. Immigrants seem to improve the level of stability in the communities where they live.
Recent Research Findings
The title of the report was “The Integration Of Immigrants Into American Society.” It used data accumulated over the past twenty years to analyze how immigrants and their descendants assimilate into American culture over time. It included such areas as health, education, language as well as economic advancement. The results are in stark contrast to the common perceptions of an increase of immigrants into a community raising the crime rates. The study revealed just the opposite. It showed an increase in immigrant populations was actually proportional to the lowering of overall crime. One major American city that was part of the study was Richmond, California. Before the early 2000s, this city was known for having one of the highest per capita murder rates in the United States.
The immigrant population in Richmond increased from a fourth to more than a third of its total population during the last decade. During this time, the total number of criminal incidents was lowered by approximately the same amount. It 2004, there were 8,168 criminal incidents and in 2014, there were 5,151. Data obtained from other cities included in the report show similar patterns. Decreases in crime rates were relative to a rise in immigrant populations. This report also showed that on a national basis, the amount of incarcerations for immigrant males between the ages of 18 and 39 was approximately half of that for native-born males of the same age bracket. This was consistent regardless of ethnicity and race.
Commentary From Experts in the Field
There was a panel of eighteen leading experts on immigration who contributed to the report. One of them was Richard Alba. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Albany. Alba is also a professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center City at the University of New York. He was recently interviewed by a National Academies of Science author. Alba said his biggest realization from the report’s findings is the power of integration processes into American society. It does not seem to matter the difference in immigration sources. Immigrants and their descendants as a whole are assimilating into American society.
It seems they are doing it at a pace that is consistent with the American historical experience. Alba also mentioned that, in addition to lower crime rates, a community that experiences an increase of highly-skilled professional immigrants will have an improvement in their local economy as well. The current influx of immigrants consists of many people who have high levels of education as well as professional qualifications.
In many sectors of American society, there is still a prevailing popular opinion that immigrants are a danger to communities. Studies show that immigrants will lower crime rates and improve the overall stability of American neighborhoods. It is becoming clear, the only danger from immigrants are deeply held prejudices and falsehoods being held against them. It is important for our nation to grow and evolve. This will require giving up long held mistaken beliefs. It is time to welcome immigrants and all they can offer the communities where they reside. To not do this would be a great disservice to our nation and future generations of Americans.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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