Panel Paper: Immigration and Crime Rate in U.S. : A Quantitative Study

Saturday, April 13, 2019
Continuing Education Building - Room 2050 (University of California, Irvine)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Denise Zangrillo, Baruch College/ Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs

Due to the considerable increase of immigrants in the United States in the last decades, and the rise of terrorist attacks across the world, discourses of national security and border control are starting to take place in the American society. Also of note are political debates trying to blame immigration as a main cause for the increase in crime rates in the country. The purpose of this research is to determine whether the immigration rate has any effect on the crime rate in the United States. This study conducted a descriptive quantitative evaluation of the correlation between both variables, analyzing data samples from official records and surveys. Through nine sets of bivariate correlation tests applied to different types of crime rates and immigration population data from 2000 to 2016, an inferential statistical calculation was conducted to deductively reject this hypothesis. The statistical analysis, through Pearson correlation indexes, reveals indirect relations between the variables in many levels, demonstrating that immigration is not a factor to the increase of crime in the United States.

At first, this research confirmed a strong indirect correlation between the increase of total national immigration rate and crime in the country. Second, as per detecting a statistical irrelevance of correlating the national unauthorized immigration data sets tested with crime rate, all correlations showed extremely low p value, and failed to reject the null hypothesis. And lastly, the national deported immigration rate revealed a relevant and strong direct relationship with crime rate in all its three variables and showed that deportation, moreover, does not decrease crime. Indeed, the deported immigrants are proven to keep committing crimes outside the country as well. After the nine sets of tests carried out in the present research, no favorable results were reached at that can support the claim by government policy makers that immigration increases the crime rates in the U.S.

In the end, this research reaches the conclusion that the recent political discourses regarding the criminalization of immigrants among U.S. citizens were created to stimulate a social panic in order to implement policies that discriminate against immigrants, with over-protection of our borders, limited entrance of refugees and asylees, increase of police enforcement, and deportation of illegal immigrants. Indeed, the social consequences caused by those policies are visible. The involvement of local police in immigration enforcement has caused fear in the immigrant victims to report violent crimes to the police, making ICE's new policies go against many local enforcement agencies that encourage anyone to report crime as a way to protect everyone’s safety. This political rhetoric also risks the incentive of xenophobic violence and other hate crimes. With the enforcement of his immigration policies, President Trump claims to put Americans first; but instead he is harming the US citizens’ public safety interests. The national security discourse that motivated the American immigration strategy to focus on investigation, criminalization, and deportation of immigrants is thus proven by the results obtained in this research as a costly social failure to the U.S.