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How Likely Are Immigrants To Commit Crimes?

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 - 2:32pm
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The Department of Homeland Security this week announced the creation of a new office — the Victims of Immigration Crime Enforcement Office, or VOICE. The office is aimed at supporting victims of crimes that were committed by undocumented immigrants.

The idea is VOICE will give victims and their families updates on a criminal’s immigration history, their custody status, and help them understand immigration-enforcement law and removal law.

Families who have been victims of crimes by undocumented immigrants — including Arizonans Mary Ann Mendoza and Steve Ronnebeck — were in Washington to witness the opening of the office. Both of their sons were killed by undocumented immigrants.

The new office fulfills a campaign promise of President Trump’s, who often pointed to families like these on the campaign trail as examples of families who the Obama administration had forgotten.

But just how likely are immigrants to commit crimes?

To find out, we turned to Doris Marie Provine, a professor in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University and the author of “Policing Immigrants: Local Law Enforcement on the Front Lines.”

She says when you look at the data, it’s not what you might expect in light of this new office.

Provine says there are a lot of things that could contribute to this trend, even though most immigrants are part of a younger generation, that is, statistically, more prone to crime.

And this trend holds true across the board, according to Provine.

When you look at incarceration rates, about half of young, immigrant men are locked up as those who were born in this country. When it comes to cities with the highest immigrant populations, they have the lowest crime rates, she says.

The new VOICE office offers a hotline to answer questions from victims of crimes committed by immigrants to call, and one of its objectives, according to ICE, is to provide quarterly reports studying the effects of the victimization by criminal undocumented immigrants who are in the United States.

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