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How big of a problem is crime involving undocumented immigrants?

We have been reading about proposed immigration reforms quite a bit in the news recently. Whether they come from presidential candidate hopefuls like Donald Trump or citizens in another state who are struggling to come to terms with a homicide involving an undocumented immigrant, there is certainly a group of vocal advocates looking to change the system. Many are citing crime rates as the driving force behind the need for dramatic change.

But how bad are the crime rates involving immigrants who are in this country without authorization? 

CNN published this report on this very subject and presented some surprising -- and reassuring -- statistics that suggest crime rates among this group are not necessarily as bad as people may think. When we break these numbers down we can see that:

  • The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. is not spiraling out of control. There are about 12.2 million people in this country without proper documentation, which has remained pretty much the same since 2009.
  • The prisons are not being overrun with undocumented immigrants. According to prison reports, fewer than 73,700 people -- or only about five percent -- in state and federal prisons are not citizens of the U.S.
  • The definition of "crime" could be muddying the waters. In many cases, the crime with which an undocumented immigrant is charged is an immigration violation, not an offense a U.S. citizen would be charged with.

The report suggests that while crime involving anyone is certainly concerning, crime rates specifically involving undocumented immigrants may not be the cause for panic and outrage that many believe it to be.

It can be very difficult to talk about immigration laws in the U.S. without also talking about politics. This is especially evident these days as the nation gears up for another presidential election. However, what every person should take away from this post is that the spotlight on immigration and crime is as harsh as ever.

This means that any person who is in this country without documentation and is charged with a crime should be prepared to face serious penalties. However, with the help of an attorney, people can work to avoid or minimize exposure to unnecessary or unfair consequences.

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