Tag: incarceration

USCIS Report Shows that DACA Arrest Rate Is Below that of Other U.S. Residents

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a report showing that 59,789 people who applied for DACA, about 6.7 percent of all 888,875 applicants, were arrested for either a criminal or civil violation.  Of those, 53,792 were approved for DACA after they had been arrested.  Of the 770,628 people approved for DACA, 7,814 were later arrested and reapproved while 1,010 were later arrested and denied DACA.

The USCIS report does not identify convictions, only arrests.  It also does not provide the comparable arrest rates for other populations, giving the false impression that that is a high number of arrests for such a small population.  However, some data released in the report does allow for a back of the envelope comparison between the arrest rate for DACA applicants and the arrest rate for the non-DACA population.  The annual arrest rate of those who applied for DACA is 86 percent below the annual arrest rate for the non-DACA resident population.  The results are similar when controlling for age.

USCIS’ report states that 6.7 percent of people who applied for DACA were arrested at some point.  Some social scientists estimate that about 30 percent of adults in the United States have an arrest record, so by that measure that have an arrest rate 78 percent below the average.  Unfortunately, the government does not record the number of people arrested elsewhere so I cannot compare the arrest rate of the population at large with the arrest rate of DACA-recipients.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics does record the number of arrests made per year and the USCIS report also lists the number of arrests (there is a major difference between the number of arrests and the number of people arrested).

The 888,875 DACA-applicants were arrested 149,712 times during their lives (I start counting in 1981 as that is the earliest year when a DACA recipient could have been born and running through 2017).  During the same time, there were about 485 million arrests of people who were not in DACA.  The number of arrests of DACA-recipients over the entire period is equal to about 16.9 percent of the entire population who applied for DACA.  However, the number of arrests nationwide of non-DACA recipients is equal to about 110 percent of the non-DACA resident population who had lived during the time.  By this measure, there are about 85 percent fewer arrests per DACA applicant than for non-DACA applicants.

There are many ways to slice and dice these numbers.  USCIS points to even better results than our research on DACA criminality.  This might not be what they intended but the USCIS report shows that DACA-applicants are much less likely to be arrested than the rest of the resident U.S. population.   

Note:  This blog was updated by the author on 8/2/2018 due to an error in a previous version that vastly overcounted the DACA arrest rate.

Another Confusing Federal Report on Immigrant Incarceration

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security (DOJ/DHS) will be publishing a quarterly report on immigrant incarceration in federal prisons because of an Executive Order issued by President Trump last year.  The most recent report found that 20 percent of all inmates in federal prison are foreign-born and about 93 percent of them are likely illegal immigrants.  Since immigrants are only about 13.5 percent of the population and illegal immigrants are only about a quarter of all immigrants, many are misreading it and coming away with the impression that foreign-born people are more crime-prone than natives. 

That is simply not true.

This new DOJ/DHS report only includes those incarcerated in federal prisons, which is not a representative sample of all incarcerated persons in the United States.  Federal prisons include a higher percentage of foreign-born prisoners than state and local correctional facilities because violations of immigration and smuggling laws are federal offenses and violators of those laws are incarcerated in federal prisons.        

The report itself almost admits as much with this important disclaimer: 

This report does not include data on the alien populations in state prisons and local jails because state and local facilities do not routinely provide DHS or DOJ with comprehensive information about their inmates and detainees—which account for approximately 90 percent of the total U.S. incarcerated population.

Immigration and Crime – What the Research Says

The alleged murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco by illegal immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez has reignited the debate over the link between immigration and crime. Such debates often call for change in policy regarding the deportation or apprehension of illegal immigrants. However, if policies should change, it should not be in reaction to a single tragic murder.  It should be in response to careful research on whether immigrants actually boost the U.S. crime rates. 

With few exceptions, immigrants are less crime prone than natives or have no effect on crime rates.  As described below, the research is fairly one-sided.       

There are two broad types of studies that investigate immigrant criminality.  The first type uses Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data from the institutionalized population and broadly concludes that immigrants are less crime prone than the native-born population.  It is important to note that immigrants convicted of crimes serve their sentences before being deported with few exceptions.  However, there are some potential problems with Census-based studies that could lead to inaccurate results.  That’s where the second type of study comes in.  The second type is a macro level analysis to judge the impact of immigration on crime rates, generally finding that increased immigration does not increase crime and sometimes even causes crime rates to fall.