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Immigration Law

Immigrants Far More Law-Abiding Than Natives: Research

New York Times, Jan. 14, 2016 - "In America, as in Europe, anti-immigrant backlashes have often followed episodes in which foreigners are blamed for crimes and other problems. But statistical studies show that in the United States, at least, immigrants are far more law-abiding than natives, regardless of race, class or education.

“Immigrants have always been a convenient scapegoat,” Walter A. Ewing, a senior researcher at the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit group in Washington, said on Wednesday.

“It’s always easy to blame the other group for all of society’s problems,” Mr. Ewing said in a telephone interview. While the immigration circumstances of Europe and the United States are obviously different, he said, “there’s a universality to xenophobia, a knee-jerk reaction. It’s fear, lashing out at what you’re afraid of.”

Mr. Ewing collaborated with Rubén G. Rumbaut, a sociology professor at the University of California, Irvine, and Daniel E. Martinez, an assistant sociology professor at George Washington University, on a study released this past July that used census data, F.B.I. data and other statistical data to rebut stereotypes about immigrants. It showed, for example, that between 1990 and 2013, as the foreign-born share of the United States population nearly doubled and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled, violent crime declined 48 percent and property crime fell 41 percent.

The study also showed that incarceration rates of native-born Americans were far higher than of migrants.

Such findings, the study said, reiterated what other research had confirmed for more than a century: “The overwhelming majority of immigrants are not ‘criminals’ by any commonly accepted definition of the term.”"