Part of the xenophobic hysteria in America is that illegal immigrants lead to higher levels of crimes. This is a racist stereotype of Mexicans as somehow being drug criminals and petty thieves.
In reality, immigrants – legal or illegal – are actually quite law-abiding. Several studies have shown that illegal immigrations are less likely to commit crimes than there native-born peers. This is due to the obvious fact that A) overwhelmingly these are decent people B) they come to the United States to work, and work only, often supporting families back home and, finally, C) illegal immigrants scrupulously adhere to laws (even traffic laws) for fear that if they ever get stopped by the police their undocumented status will be revealed and they’ll be deported.
Any even minor wrong doing by illegal immigrants threatens their job and livelihood, and their family’s life back home, by ending the very reason they came to the United States.
Illegal immigrants are already wary of authority, so they seek to keep a low profile and just do the work, get paid, send money back home and start all over again. Any crude behavior would, of course, jeopardize that. So for their own interest they are exceedingly law-behaving.
But the anti-immigrant zealots do not believe this, but maybe they’ll believe it when the see the statistics that over the course of more and more immigrants coming to the U.S. the level of crime has become less and less:
Arizona’s harsh new law against illegal immigration is being justified in part as a measure to combat crime. […]
The crime rate in Arizona in 2008 was the lowest it has been in four decades. In the past decade, as the number of illegal immigrants in the state grew rapidly, the violent crime rate dropped by 23 percent, the property crime rate by 28 percent. (You can check out the DoJ figures here.)
In Phoenix, police spokesman Trent Crump said, “Despite all the hype, in every single reportable crime category, we’re significantly down.” Mr. Crump said Phoenix’s most recent data for 2010 indicated still lower crime. For the first quarter of 2010, violent crime was down 17% overall in the city, while homicides were down 38% and robberies 27%, compared with the same period in 2009.
Arizona’s major cities all registered declines. A perceived rise in crime is one reason often cited by proponents of a new law intended to crack down on illegal immigration. The number of kidnappings reported in Phoenix, which hit 368 in 2008, was also down, though police officials didn’t have exact figures.
Immigration up, crime down.