Immigration and reality
A fact-based discussion of immigration on FiveThirtyEight:
Ben: One thing that often seems to get lost in this debate is that the trends on legal and illegal immigration look very different. The total number of immigrants is rising and is on track to hit an all-time high as a share of the population. But the number of undocumented immigrants is down from its peak and has been pretty much flat in recent years.
Ana: That is correct. And it is mostly driven by a shift in the countries where most immigrants are coming from nowadays — from Mexico and Latin America in general to Asia, particularly China and India...
Ana: After reaching a peak in 2007, the number of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. has dropped off. And between 2009 and 2014, there were more Mexican nationals leaving the U.S. for Mexico than there were Mexican immigrants coming into the U.S. Most of that is due to a 1 million-person decrease in the number of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico from 2007 to 2014...
Ana: In our surveys, we have found that immigration, terrorism and crime are much more salient issues among Trump supporters than among Hillary Clinton’s.
Ben: And yet studies pretty consistently show that immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, have a LOWER rate of violent crime than native-born Americans. (That link is from a conservative writer on the WSJ op-ed page, by the way.)
Farai: This article from The Washington Post cites several studies, including one from Pew, showing that crime among immigrants is lower than among native-born Americans.
Anna: One thing that was striking to me last night was that crime related to unauthorized immigration and questions about vetting Syrian refugees were lumped together at times. These are groups who enter the country in very different ways.
Ben: Right. If you come here illegally and planning to work (as most immigrants do), then you have a strong incentive not to commit crimes — if you get caught, you can be deported! But, of course, the concern about terrorism is that someone could come here planning to commit a violent act. Claiming refugee status, though, is perhaps the most difficult way to enter the country — it isn’t clear that potential terrorists would choose that method...