The Trump administration regularly asserts that undocumented immigrants are predatory and threaten public safety. Immigrant advocates say that talk demonizes an entire class of people.
Now, four academic studies show that illegal immigration does not increase the prevalence of violent crime or drug and alcohol problems. In the slew of research, motivated by Trump's rhetoric, social scientists set out to answer this question: Are undocumented immigrants more likely to break the law?
Michael Light, a criminologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, looked at whether the soaring increase in illegal immigration over the last three decades caused a commensurate jump in violent crimes: murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
"Increased undocumented immigration since 1990 has not increased violent crime over that same time period," Light said in a phone interview.
Those findings are published in the current edition of the peer-reviewed journal Criminology.
In a separate study, these same researchers previously looked at nonviolent crime. They found that the dramatic influx of undocumented immigrants, similarly, did not drive up rates of drug and alcohol arrests or the number of drug overdoses and DUI deaths.
"We found no evidence that undocumented immigration increases the prevalence of any of those outcomes," Light said.