Study: Trump is Wrong About Immigrants Being Violent Criminals

Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell | October 6, 2016

Republican presidential nominee speaks at a rally in Arizona earlier this year. Image via flickr/Gage Skidmore.

Republican presidential nominee speaks at a rally in Arizona earlier this year. Image via flickr/Gage Skidmore.

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. — Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump.

When Donald Trump announced his presidential bid more than a year ago, he did so with a screed that emphasized his insistence that Mexican immigrants are criminals, and in particular, rapists.

New research published recently in Social Science Quarterly discredits this so-called “Trump Hypothesis.”

“No evidence links Mexican or undocumented Mexican immigrants specifically to violent or drug-related crime,” writes David Green, a professor at Japan’s Nogoya University, in September’s issue of the journal.

Green sought to test whether immigrants are responsible for higher levels of violent and drug-related crimes in the U.S., as Trump has said, using crime and immigration data. His motivation wasn’t just Trump’s comments themselves, but a broader public perception, in some quarters, that there’s a strong link between crime and immigration. Interestingly, he notes that for more than 100 years, researchers in the U.S. have documented that immigrants aren’t responsible for crime in this country. But that hasn’t dissuaded candidates from making that claim.

“Although the Trump Hyopthesis is a contemporary iteration, the question of the immigrant-crime nexus is an old one,” Green wrote.

He also found it’s still inaccurate.

Green started by looking at violent crime and drug arrests from 2012 to 2014, then he compared them to data on foreign-born and Mexican nationals living in the U.S., along with estimates about the size of undocumented immigrant population, including Mexicans.

“Data uniformly show no association between immigrant population size and increased violent crime,” he found. He went on to say that the data contradict Trump’s claim that immigrants are largely responsible for crime that occurs in the U.S.

Green did note, however, a slight link between undocumented immigrant populations and drug-related arrests, which he characterized as “minimal, though significant.”

In what may be the understatement of the year, Green concludes, “the Trump Hypothesis is driven much more strongly by rhetoric and ideology, rather than a careful consideration of immigrant-crime data.”

The Urban Edge contacted the Trump campaign’s press office to ask for a response to Green’s study. It also asked the campaign to share any data sources it used to identify a statistical link between immigration and crime. The campaign did not respond to the Urban Edge‘s request.

Unfortunately, Green acknowledges that he doesn’t expect his work to dampen the tone or rhetoric around immigration. After all, researchers have been publishing studies that discredit the supposed immigration-crime link almost as long as politicians have been proclaiming it.

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