Is there something about being an immigrant — particularly an illegal immigrant — that makes you more likely than anyone else to commit a crime? Many studies on the topoic are simultaneously touted and debunked by people on various sides of the issue, reports The Oregonian. Critics of immigration policy lean on a few reports, including one by the Department of Justice, to argue that immigrants and violence are linked. Most academic research dating to the early 1900s shows otherwise, experts say.
A Portland State University criminologist is among the most recent to explore the idea, examining whether deportable immigrants released from Los Angeles County’s jail were more likely to be rearrested than nondeportable immigrants. “These assumptions need to be tested,” said Laura Hickman, who co-authored the February report. “It’s our job as academics to lend knowledge to policymakers.” At first glance, Hickman’s work suggests deportable inmates are more prone to re-offend. She Hickman said a closer look at the data shows that their legal status was irrelevant. She took into account other group factors beyond immigration status — age, criminal history, types of charges, race, country of birth. She found that rearrests were driven by other common catalysts of crime: previous arrests, a younger age or a previous drug or property charge.