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DACA and Fact Check on Immigrant Crime

Sep 26, 2017 | Immigration

With DACA being blamed, on one level or another, for part of the supposed immigrant crime problem, it seems fitting to take a look at the issue of immigrant crime, as well as how DACA works. In that way, you can decide for yourself whether some of the attacks on immigration – including the current issue with DACA – are justified, or whether they might be based, rather, on prejudice, pure and simple.

The Immigrant Crime Issue

Behind some of the inflammatory rhetoric, of course, is the notion that immigration is driving a supposed huge increase in crime, violent crime in particular. Well, in the words of Mr. Darling in Peter Pan, that’s “Poppycock”! Here’s a rundown of some of the anti-immigration claims, and then the facts, stripped of delusion:

  • Poppycock #1. Violent crime is up because of immigration. Fact: Violent crime is at its lowest rate today than at any time since the 1950’s. Some go so far as to argue that the period of the steepest decline in violent crime, the 1990’s, was caused at least in part by an increase in the number of immigrants in that period.
  • Poppycock #2. Americans born in the U.S. are more law-abiding than immigrants. Fact: Statistically, immigrants (legal and illegal) are far more law abiding than those who were born here. Census figures show that immigrants have become less prone to commit crimes since 1980.
  • Poppycock #3. The incarceration of immigrant criminals (particularly Latinos) is costing the country big-time. Fact: As of 2010, over 10% of native-born adult men under the age of 40 who didn’t finish high school were incarcerated in the United States. For Central American immigrants, the number was 1.7%.
  • Poppycock #4. Those who are here for generations are less likely to commit crimes than immigrants. Fact: A study in Chicago found that there was a positive correlation between greater distance (generationally) from immigration into the country and increased violence.

What is DACA?

DACA is an acronym that stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It began in 2012 to allow those who arrived in the U.S. as children to defer any deportation action for a period of two years, and any renewals. DACA also made it legal for people covered under it to work in the U.S.

How Does DACA Affect Immigrant-Related Crime?

DACA is under attack, and the subtext is that these folks are part of the crime problem associated with immigration. Well, let’s assume that all the facts are different, and that in this alternative reality, immigrants were driving up the rate of violent crime. Even assuming that, it’s important to recognize the requirements that need to be met to qualify for the program. They include, among others, that you (a) were under 16 when you arrived in the country; (b) are a student; a graduate (including those with a GED, or were honorably discharged from the armed forces; and (c) were never convicted of a felony or a significant misdemeanor. That being the case, the argument that DACA is part of any crime problem in the U.S. becomes, as with the other claims, Poppycock!

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