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What do we Know About Undocumented Immigrant Crime?

Updated: Dec 7, 2018




In the recent political climate, the question of undocumented immigration has gained a lot of attention.

What do we Know About Undocumented Immigrant Crime?

Written by: Dr. Lincoln Sloas



In the recent political climate, the question of undocumented #immigration has gained a lot of attention. Specifically, as it pertains to violent crime victimization. One might be quick to form an opinion that undocumented crime victimization is on the rise, however, we must let the science speak for itself. In this month’s article, I draw on the work of Light and Miller (2018) who have taken a vested interest in the science behind undocumented crime victimization. It is here we now turn.



For many decades undocumented immigrant crime has been a hot topic of discussion, especially during political cycles. However, not much is known in terms of does it actually increase violent crime. From 1990 to 2014, Light and Miller (2018) conducted the first longitudinal assessment of undocumented immigration crime. Using data from all 50 states, Light and Miller (2018) use data comprised of socioeconomic, demographic, and criminal to better understand how these items correlate with undocumented immigrant violent crime. Some examples of socioeconomic and demographic items examined by Light and Miller (2018) include: unemployment, poverty, and being a single parent to a child. In addition, several indicators of crime were assessed, including: homicide, robbery, and rape.




After analyzing their data, Light and Miller (2018) find that undocumented immigration does not increase violent crime. This finding is quite interesting, especially since their study takes place over a long period of time. Light and Miller (2018) further highlight that this finding is not a result of less reporting but, however, may be due to the increase of reporting in undocumented immigration. As I have mentioned in previous posts, it continues to be imperative to separate our opinions from the facts.


Lincoln B. Sloas, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University. His research interests include community corrections with an emphasis on how individuals navigate substance use treatment services and problem-solving courts.

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