Do Apprehensions of Undocumented Immigrants Reduce Crime and Create Jobs? Evidence form U.S. Districts, 2000-2015

Annie Laurie Hines & Giovanni Peri
Date of Publication: 
December, 2018
Source Organization: 

The Trump administration points to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States as a major security risk and a threat to the economic livelihood of U.S.-born workers. This supposition provides justification for enhanced border security and immigration enforcement. However, there is limited causal research on the effects of apprehension and deportation on crime rates and the employment prospects of low-skilled U.S.-born workers. In this study, scholars use data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Yearbooks of Immigration Statistics, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Database and the American Community Survey to analyze how increased enforcement affected both local crime rates and job opportunities for U.S. citizens across 17 Immigration and Customs Enforcement districts between 2000 and 2015. The researchers found no substantial empirical evidence supporting the argument that intensified immigration enforcement reduces crime rates and increases employment opportunities for Americans. For example, there was no statistically significant difference in crime rates between districts with high apprehension rates compared to those with lower apprehension rates. Even in areas that experienced a decline in property crime rates, such as in Arizona, deportations often had no effect on overall crime rates. Likewise, aggressive apprehension policies did not deliver economic benefit for the U.S.-born population. On the contrary, the evidence suggests high enforcement districts experienced negative effects on the wages of low-skilled U.S. citizens from 2007 to 2011. The authors therefore find little justification for the intensified enforcement policies of the Trump administration. Instead, they emphasize the importance of encouraging immigrants to report criminal activities in their communities, and of recognizing the economic benefits of immigration for all Americans. (Ayse Alkilic for The Immigration Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Hines, A. L. & Peri, G. (2018). "Do Apprehensions of Undocumented Immigrants Reduce Crime and Create Jobs? Evidence form U.S. Districts, 2000-2015." University of California Davis Law Review, 52:255. Retrieved from