I was enjoying a discussion in the comment section of my flogging post and thought this deserved its own post.
Did you know immigrants have lower rates of crime than native-born Americans? Non-citizens, illegal immigrants included, are much less likely to be in prison than US citizens. Immigrants, by and large, have lower rates of crime than red-blooded Americans.
Here are the numbers:
Combined in state and federal prisons, “non-citizens”–which includes legal immigrants–make up just 4.1% of the population (94,498 out of 1,613,656). I have no idea what percentage of those non-citizens are illegal immigrants from Mexico, but of course it would be some fraction of 95,000. (A big or small fraction I wouldn’t guess.)
By comparison, 6.9% (about 23 million) of the total United States population are non-citizens (2003, US Census).
Why are immigrants less likely to do crimes that put them in prison? It’s a good question. I would hazard a guess that it’s some combination of working harder to stay out of trouble, good family values (including perhaps religious values), and self-selection (people who have the desire and means to get to the US, legally or not, may be the cream of the crop compared to those left behind).
Many people, especially anti-immigrant types, either don’t know this or don’t want to believe it. Living in a majority immigrant neighborhood (in Queens) and a city (New York) where one-in-three is foreign born, this doesn’t surprise me at all. It seems to me the further one gets from knowing immigrants, the more anti-immigrant the beliefs.