Both the Census-data driven studies and macro-level studies find that immigrants are less crime-prone than natives with some small potential exceptions.
High-profile incidents, like the recent arrest of a Mexican national in the horrific shooting death of a young woman in San Francisco, can give the impression that immigrants are more likely to commit violent crimes. But the alleged killer is no more representative of Mexican immigrants than Dylann Roof is representative of white people.
Every immigrant here illegally has already broken a law, though that doesn’t mean they are predisposed to crime. In a 2005 paper, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reported that more recently arrived immigrants are even less crime-prone than their predecessors. In 1980 the incarceration rate of foreign nationals was about one percentage point below natives. A decade later that had fallen to a little more than a percentage point, and by 2000 it was almost three percentage points lower.
Ramesh Ponnuru – citing important research done by Scott Winship – highlights faults (other than the ones that I earlier highlighted) with Eduardo Porter’s column in today’s New York Times. (Last year in the Wall Street Journal Liya Palagashvili and I addressed this issue of the alleged widening gap between worker pay and worker marginal productivity.)