Criminal Immigrants in Texas: Illegal Immigrant Convictions and Arrest Rates for Homicide, Sexual Assault, Larceny, and Other Crimes

Alex Nowrasteh
Date of Publication: 
February, 2018
Source Organization: 
Cato Institute

There is a widespread belief, propagated by the Trump administration, that when undocumented immigrants enter the United States, they significantly increase crime rates. However, undocumented immigrants are less likely than the U.S.-born to be arrested or charged for most crimes, according to this report by Alex Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute. Using 2015 data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Nowrasteh compares arrest and conviction rates in Texas for undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants, and native-born Americans. Overall arrest rates for undocumented immigrants were 40 percent lower than for native-born Americans. Furthermore, conviction rates for legal immigrants were 262 per 100,000 and 782 per 100,000 for undocumented immigrants -- both significantly lower than 1,749 per 100,000 for native-born Americans. For example, homicide conviction rates for undocumented immigrants were 25 percent lower than for the U.S.-born, and sexual assault conviction rates were 11.5 percent lower. Undocumented immigrants had higher conviction rates for gambling, kidnapping, smuggling, and vagrancy; however, these four crimes combined only accounted for 0.18 percent of the total crime in Texas in 2015. These findings are consistent with previous research that shows immigration enforcement programs do not affect local crime rates, suggesting that undocumented immigrants are not any more or less crime-prone than other residents. (Deb D'Anastasio for The Immigrant Learning Center)

Download now or view online


Nowrasteh, A. (2018). Criminal Immigrants in Texas Illegal Immigrant Conviction and Arrest Rates for Homicide, Sexual Assault, Larceny, and Other Crimes (Research and Policy Brief No. 4). Washington, D.C.: CATO Institute. Retrieved from