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Non-Citizens Committed a Disproportionate Share of Federal Crimes, 2011-16

Article author: 
Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies
Article publisher: 
American Renaissance
Article date: 
January 11, 2018
Article category: 
Immigration Impact
Medium
Article Body: 

Many immigration advocates argue that immigrants have much lower crime rates than natives (see this op-ed and this paper). As my colleague Jessica Vaughan and I pointed in a paper some years ago, however, the picture is far from clear. While there are other issues, the biggest problem with studying immigrant crime is that states and localities do not systematically track the country of birth, citizenship, or legal status of those they arrest, convict, or incarcerate. But the federal government does track the citizenship of those it convicts. New data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission shows that of those convicted of federal crimes between 2011 and 2016, 44.2 percent were not U.S. citizens — 21.4 percent if immigration crimes are excluded. In comparison, non-citizens are 8.4 percent of the adult population. Of this 8.4 percent, about 4 percent are illegal immigrants and about 4 percent are legal immigrants.

The commission’s data does not distinguish legal status among non-citizens. It is almost certain that a majority of the non-citizens convicted of federal crimes are illegal immigrants....

Areas where non-citizens account for a much larger share of convictions than their 8.4 percent share of the adult population include:
 
    42.4 percent of kidnapping convictions;
 
    31.5 percent of drug convictions;
 
    22.9 percent of money laundering convictions;
 
    13.4 percent of administration of justice offenses (e.g. witness tampering, obstruction, and contempt);
 
    17.8 percent of economic crimes (e.g. larceny, embezzlement, and fraud);
 
    13 percent of other convictions (e.g. bribery, civil rights, environmental, and prison offenses); and
 
    12.8 percent of auto thefts.
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