Immigration and Crime

Standard

Some all-out “open the floodgates” champions of unfettered immigration have averred that a further influx of Central Americans won’t raise the rate of crime in the United States. (I can’t cite sources, but I’m sure that I’ve read such pronouncements in the pseudo-libertarian sector of the blogosphere.) I’ve even been guilty of giving aid and comfort to the pseudo-libertarian position by posting “Hispanics and Crime,” wherein I cite the work of La Griffe du Lion.

Griffe (if I may be familiar) says this in “Crime and the Hispanic Effect“:

It has been conjectured that the contribution of Hispanics to violent crime is on the point of advancing to the standing enjoyed by blacks. This, however, is not confirmed by our evidence, at least in our largest cities. Whoever thinks or has thought this to be so has come to this determination from evidence not directly related to what is happening on the street, but rather from incarceration records, court appearances or sentencing data. When crimes rather than criminals are counted, and the Hispanic effect is appropriately removed, the data show that violent crime rates for Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites, though a bit higher for Hispanics, are in actual fact quite similar. As for blacks, their crime rate remains by any measure uniquely high.

And he has the numbers to prove it.

For the sake of argument, I assume the following:

  • Whites and Hispanics already in the U.S. commit crimes at the same rate.
  • Hispanic immigrants (new ones, that is) are no more or less crime-prone than Hispanics already here.

It would seem to follow that Hispanic immigration hasn’t caused and won’t cause a rise in the rate at which crimes are committed in the U.S. But it ain’t necessarily so:

  1. Crime rates are computed for a given population, with a given density and demographic makeup. Immigration changes the density and demographic makeup of a population.
  2. If the rate of crime rises with the density of population, immigration will cause the rate of crime to rise, ceteris paribus.
  3. If immigration leads to more interactions between resentful whites and Hispanics — as it almost surely will — the rate of white-on-Hispanic crime will rise further.
  4. If immigration leads to more opportunities for Hispanics to attack whites because they’re white and to steal from more affluent persons (usually whites) — as it almost surely will — the rate of Hispanic-on-white crime will rise further.

My money’s on propositions 2, 3, and 4. Can anyone cite research pro or con?

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