Far from the “rapists” and “murderers” stereotype presented by Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump, immigrants are much less likely to be criminals that native-born Americans.
That’s one of the conclusions of a major report by the prestigious National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, a consortium of private, nonprofit institutions chartered by Congress during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
The report found that neighborhoods with greater concentrations of immigrants have much lower rates of crime and violence than comparable non-immigrant neighborhoods. In fact, foreign-born men aged 18-39 are jailed at only one-fourth the rate of native-born American men of the same age.
“Increased prevalence of immigrants is associated with lower crime rates—the opposite of what many Americans fear,” the authors concluded.
The 450-page report, “The Integration of Immigrants into American Society,” was released last week, and a public briefing will be webast on Monday from Washington.
“The U.S. has a long history of accepting people from across the globe, and successful integration of immigrants and their children contributes to our economic vitality and a vibrant, ever-changing culture,” said Mary Waters, a professor of sociology at Harvard University and chair of the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report.
There are 41 million immigrants and 37.1 million U.S.-born children of immigrants in the United States today. Together, the first and second generations account for one-quarter of the U.S. population.
Among the report’s other findings:
- Today’s immigrants are learning English at the same rate or faster than earlier waves of immigrants.
- Some 86 percent of first-generation men are employed, a higher rate than for native-born Americans.
- More than a quarter of the foreign born have a college education and their children do exceptionally well in school.
- Immigrants are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and cancer, they experience fewer chronic health conditions, have lower infant mortality and obesity rates, and have a longer life expectancy than native-born Americans.
- The foreign-born have lower rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock birth.
- Immigrants are more likely to be poor than the native-born, and on average work longer hours.
The authors stressed that the report is scientific, not political, but warned that the uncertain legal status of the estimated 11.3 million undocumented immigrants is slowing the integration of their citizen children.
The study was sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security, with additional funding from the National Academy of Sciences’ Kellogg Fund.
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