One of the more common complaints I hear about illegal immigration is that low-skilled workers from Mexico and Central America allegedly bring with them a wave of crime and incarceration expenses, especially to southern California.
Those complaints are hard to square with the mounting evidence that immigrants, even low-skilled, illegal immigrants, are no more prone to commit crimes than native-born Americans. The latest data point comes from Los Angeles, where the Wall Street Journal reports this morning: “Violent crime in Los Angeles hit its lowest level in more than half a century last year, one of a growing number of U.S. cities reporting its streets were remarkably safe in 2009.”
I tried to connect the dots on immigration and crime in a recent article I wrote for Commentary magazine, titled “Higher Immigration, Lower Crime.” My conclusion was entirely consistent with the latest crime report from Los Angeles:
As a rule, low-skilled Hispanic immigrants get down to the business of earning money, sending remittances to their home countries, and staying out of trouble. In comparison to 15 years ago a member of today’s underclass standing on a street corner is more likely waiting for a day’s work than for a drug deal.