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Immigrants In Texas Commit Fewer Crimes Than Natural-Born Americans, Study Finds

Gabriel C. Pérez
The Gateway International Bridge separates the border cities of Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Tamaulipas in Mexico.

Immigrants in Texas are committing fewer crimes proportionally than natural-born citizens, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute.

Researchers with the libertarian think-tank used 2015 data from the Texas Department of Public Safety to measure the criminal conviction and arrest rates of three groups: illegal immigrants, legal immigrants and native-born Americans.

They found the conviction and arrest rates for both types of immigrants were lower than those for natural-born citizens.

Credit Cato Institute

Criminal conviction rates among illegal immigrants were 56 percent below rates of natural-born Americans. For legal immigrants, the rate was 85 percent below. Legal immigrants are more law-abiding than virtually any other group in the U.S., the study’s lead author, Alex Nowrasteh, said.

The population of Texas was roughly 27 million in 2015. Native-born Americans made up 83 percent; illegal immigrants made up about 6.4 percent; and legal immigrants made up 10.4 percent.

To compare relative conviction and arrest rates between groups, government agencies usually report the number of convictions per 100,000 members of a particular group. There were 1,794 criminal convictions for every 100,000 native-born Americans in Texas. Comparably, they were 782 convictions for illegal immigrants and 262 for legal immigrants.

The study also broke down the rates of convictions and arrests by homicide, sexual assault, larceny and other crimes.

Credit Cato Institute

The think-tank said it chose Texas data specifically because state law enforcement cooperates more closely with federal immigration agencies, making the data more accurate.  

Nadia Hamdan is a local news anchor and host for NPR's "Morning Edition" on KUT.
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