This paper addresses a prominent issue in the US immigration debate; that is, whether immigrants, particularly those without status, are more likely than US natives to commit crimes and to pose a threat to public safety. It find that immigrants are less likely than similar US natives to commit violent and property crimes, and that communities with more immigrants have similar or lower rates of violent and property crimes than those with fewer immigrants. The few studies on the criminal behavior of unauthorized immigrants suggest that these immigrants also have a lower propensity to commit crime than their native-born peers, although possibly a higher propensity than legal immigrants. Legalization programs, in turn, have been found to reduce crime rates, while increased border enforcement has mixed effects on crime rates. It concludes that a legalization or similar program have more potential to improve public safety and security than several other policies that have recently been proposed or implemented.
The 2019 Father Lydio F. Tomasi, c.s. Annual Lecture on International Migration was delivered by Msgr. Arturo J. Bañuelas, Pastor of St. Mark’s Parish in El Paso, TX on March 12, 2019 at the sixth national gathering of the Catholic Immigrant Integration Initiative in Santa Clara, California.