USA: Is There a Connection Between Undocumented Immigrants and Crime?

Spoiler – no:

A lot of research has shown that there’s no causal connection between immigration and crime in the United States. But after one such study was reported on jointly by The Marshall Project and The Upshot last year, readers had one major complaint: Many argued it wasunauthorized immigrants who increase crime, not immigrants over all.

An analysis derived from new data is now able to help address this question, suggesting that growth in illegal immigration does not lead to higher local crime rates.

In part because it’s hard to collect data on them, undocumented immigrants have been the subjects of few studies, including those related to crime. But the Pew Research Center recently released estimates of undocumented populations sorted by metro area, which The Marshall Project has compared with local crime rates published by the F.B.I. For the first time, there is an opportunity for a broader analysis of how unauthorized immigration might have affected crime rates since 2007.

A large majority of the areas recorded decreases in both violent and property crime between 2007 and 2016, consistent with a quarter-century decline in crime across the United States. The analysis found that crime went down at similar rates regardless of whether the undocumented population rose or fell. Areas with more unauthorized migration appeared to have larger drops in crime, although the difference was small and uncertain.

(Illegal immigration itself is either a civil violation or a misdemeanor, depending on whether someone overstayed a visa or crossed the border without authorization.)

Most types of crime had an almost flat trend line, indicating that changes in undocumented populations had little or no effect on crime in the various metro areas under survey. Murder was the only type of crime that appeared to show a rise, but again the difference was small and uncertain (effectively zero).

For undocumented immigrants, being arrested for any reason would mean facing eventual deportation — and for some a return to whatever danger or deprivation they’d sought to escape at home.

There is no exact count of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States. To create estimates, experts at Pew subtracted Department of Homeland Security counts of immigrants with legal status from the number of foreign-born people counted by the Census Bureau. Many organizations and agencies, including the D.H.S., use this residual estimation method; it is generally considered the best one available. As of 2016, there were an estimated 10.7 million undocumented immigrants nationwide, down a million and a half since 2007.

Jeffrey Passel, a Pew senior demographer, and his team estimated changes in undocumented populations for roughly 180 metropolitan areas between 2007 and 2016. For comparison, The Marshall Project calculated corresponding three-year averages of violent and property crime rates from the Uniform Crime Reporting program, and the change in those rates.

The results of the analysis resemble those of other studies on the relationship between undocumented immigration and crime. Last year, a report by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, found that unauthorized immigrants in Texas committed fewer crimes than their native-born counterparts. A state-level analysis in Criminology, an academic journal, found that undocumented immigration did not increase violent crime and was in fact associated with slight decreases in it. Another Cato study found that unauthorized immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated.

At the more local level, an analysis by Governing magazine reported that metropolitan areas with more undocumented residents had similar rates of violent crime, and significantly lower rates of property crime, than areas with smaller numbers of such residents in 2014. After controlling for multiple socioeconomic factors, the author of the analysis, Mike Maciag, found that for every 1 percentage point increase in an area’s population that was undocumented there were 94 fewer property crimes per 100,000 residents.

More research is underway about the potential effects of undocumented immigration on crime. Robert Adelman, a professor at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, whose group’s research The Marshall Project and The Upshot have previously documented, is leading a team to expand on the Governing analysis. Early results suggest unauthorized immigration has no effect on violent crime, and is associated with lower property crime, the same as Mr. Maciag found.

Preliminary findings indicate that other socioeconomic factors like unemployment rates, housing instability and measures of economic hardship all predict higher rates of different types of crime, while undocumented immigrant populations do not.

Many studies have established that immigrants commit crimes at consistently lower rates than native-born Americans. But a common concern is whether immigrants put pressure on native-born populations in any number of ways — for instance, by increasing job competition — that could indirectly lead to more crime and other negative impacts.

According to Mr. Adelman and his team, however, the impact of undocumented immigrants is probably similar to what the research indicates about immigrants over all: They tend to bring economic and cultural benefits to their communities. They typically come to America to find work, not to commit crimes, says Yulin Yang, a member of the team.

The data suggests that when it comes to crime, the difference between someone who is called a legal immigrant and an illegal one doesn’t seem to matter.

Anti-Immigration Laws Have Negative Health Effects on Undocumented Youth

Not too surprising:

Anti-immigration laws, coupled with the repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), have negative public health implications for undocumented Latino immigrant youth, according to results presented at the American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo, held November 10 to 14 in San Diego, California.

These negative effects on public health stem from limited access to education and include higher percentages of tobacco and alcohol use, higher rates of stress-induced chronic disease, and a decrease in the use of health and human services.

The researchers conducted 5 focus groups in San Mateo County, with 3 objectives: to better understand undocumented immigrants’ feelings around the fear of deportation, to identify strategies that can lessen negative effects, and to develop recommendations to help support undocumented immigrants. The researchers also conducted interviews with 6 key informants and 8 healthcare providers.

The researchers found that participants noted signs of depression and anxiety in children and young adults. Particularly, participants expressed concern for older children who once qualified for DACA: these children now reported feelings of hopelessness and lower self-esteem.

The results of the study indicated that undocumented immigrant children sometimes refuse to continue seeking an education, fearing deportation and threats against the Latino community.

To mitigate the negative effects of the political climate on this community, participants expressed a need to increase awareness about health implications, offer practical support systems, and pass local policies that protect all residents, including undocumented immigrants.

“The research highlights the need to study the impact of DACA and immigration enforcement in relation to stress levels, including mental health and chronic disease,” lead study author Mayra Diaz, MPH, from the San Mateo County Health System, Belmont, California, said. “It will be critical to look into areas of outreach for access to public, health, and social services.”

Source: Anti-Immigration Laws Have Negative Health Effects on Undocumented Youth

Trump Refuses to Release Data on Immigration Crackdown – Bloomberg

Never a good sign when governments use press releases rather than regular data releases but in keeping with the Trump administration’s overall approach:

Five days into his presidency, Donald Trump took aim at illegal immigration with executive orders signaling a new era of heavy enforcement. Not only did he threaten to go after undocumented immigrants, many of whom he labeled violent criminals, he also vowed to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that thwart the federal government’s attempts to round up people who are in the U.S. illegally. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security promised to put out weekly updates that would include information on localities that release immigration violators and the criminal records of those released.

The first reports were filled with inaccuracies and in several instances called out counties for not cooperating with detainer, or detention, requests that were actually sent to other places with similar names. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency had to issue a list of corrections, and soon it simply stopped putting out the reports. For the past 18 months, ICE has also refused to release other key data about its enforcement activity that had been routinely available.

This disappearing data is at the heart of two lawsuits brought against ICE by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a small research group at Syracuse University. As of January 2017, ICE stopped handing over records it had provided under the Freedom of Information Act for years, including any details about how effective Trump’s crackdown has been. If ICE prevails in court, it could give other agencies a legal rationale to deny public access to the vast cache of government data now kept in electronic databases.

At a time when U.S. authorities are separating children from their parents at the border—and then losing track of them—and the president continues to assert that many immigrants are violent criminals, the lack of basic data on government enforcement has created a fog of uncertainty over an already charged issue. TRAC was founded in 1989 by co-directors Susan Long, a statistician, and David Burnham, an investigative journalist, specifically to cut through this sort of political rhetoric by amassing data on federal policy. It uses FOIA requests to pull in 250 million records from various agencies each month, and its website offers tools to help analyze the data. TRAC had long requested and received information on detainers, as well as deportations aimed at removing undocumented immigrants with criminal records. After ICE abruptly stopped providing the information last year, Long and Burnham sued it in federal court in New York to regain access to the detainer data, and then in the District of Columbia over the missing deportation records.

“We have this huge political debate going on in the country over secure communities and sanctuary cities and all the claims that the government is making about how essential this is, and the very data that would allow you to evaluate the program, they’re withholding,” Long says. ICE argues that many of the records TRAC has asked for don’t exist in the form requested and says producing responses would require searching its database, a process the agency claims amounts to creating new records, which isn’t required under FOIA. ICE didn’t reply to a list of questions and a request for comment.

“If they’re going to court to try to keep information hidden about the detainer policy, they’re probably hiding something,” says Peter Boogaard, a former DHS press secretary in the Obama administration. More broadly, transparency has become a function of political convenience, Boogaard says. “They’re happy to say that immigration is causing huge problems, but at the same point, they are not sharing information.”

It’s still possible to track the overall number of detainers ICE issues—about 14,000 a month on average through November 2017. That’s up from the last months under Obama, but much lower than the peak of close to 28,000 in 2011. Left out are details on whether ICE takes custody—or the criminal records of those targeted. Under Obama, TRAC found that even when local law enforcement held an individual under a detainer, more than half the time ICE agents didn’t show up to take custody—and that few ICE detainers targeted serious criminals. That sort of analysis is now impossible to do. “It’s really frustrating to not be able to get a holistic picture of what’s happening,” says Emily Ryo, an associate professor of law and sociology at the University of Southern California, who’s tried with TRAC to get data on detentions. “It really is an important moment for the public to understand what’s happening and for researchers to be able to document what is going on.”

In place of detailed reports, ICE issues press releases describing raids and arrests, citing criminal records of detainees, and complaining about the lack of cooperation from sanctuary cities. “I don’t want bullet-pointed press releases that say some large numbers of people were apprehended over the weekend and here are five examples of how dangerous these individuals were,” says César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, an associate professor of law at the University of Denver. “I want to know details about the large number of people. I want percentages. I want actual numbers about what kinds of crimes.”

The data García Hernández has been able to cobble together show a reality at least partly at odds with Trump’s rhetoric. In fiscal 2017, a period that covers the end of the Obama administration and the beginning of the current one, the average daily population held in immigration detention centers rose by 3,730 people, an 11 percent increase from fiscal 2016. The average length of stay has also risen, to 43.7 days, up from fewer than 35 the previous year.

The number of prosecutions for immigration crimes fell by more than 10,000, or 15 percent, over the same period. That’s striking given the emphasis the Trump administration has put on prosecuting undocumented immigrants. It’s an incredibly complex system that’s shifting all the time, making accurate data more important than ever. Data from this year that TRAC got using another FOIA request show a jump in prosecutions of border crossers. And the detention system may be nearing its limit: This month, authorities are transferring 1,600 detainees to federal prisons while they await civil court hearings.

The inaccuracies in ICE’s statements about enforcement actions have caused a furor within the agency in recent months. James Schwab, a spokesman for ICE in San Francisco, resigned in March over misleading statements from agency leaders about an ICE raid in Oakland. The bigger implication is how agencies are allowed to draw the line when it comes to producing electronic records, and the distinction between creating a record and just extracting one from a database, according to Sean Sherman, a lawyer at Public Citizen Litigation Group who’s representing TRAC in Washington. “ICE is saying that by basically searching for these electronic records, that constitutes creating new records,” he says. “That just can’t be right, because that’s basically true of all government records right now.” Meanwhile, ICE is withholding data in many more of TRAC’s FOIA requests. Says Long: “We could file a new suit every week, if we were going to aggressively litigate this.”

via Trump Refuses to Release Data on Immigration Crackdown – Bloomberg

ICYMI – Enquête: le Montréal des sans-papiers

One of the relatively rare articles that I have seen regarding sans-papiers. And being undocumented, we have no good data on how many there are:

Nous les croisons sans les voir dans les rues de Montréal. Ils font le tri de nos rebuts, récurent les toilettes de nos cliniques médicales, passent l’aspirateur, la nuit, dans les couloirs de nos bureaux. Ils sont des dizaines de milliers, mais ils sont invisibles. Sans eux, l’économie de la ville subirait un dur coup, puisque ces travailleurs de l’ombre occupent les emplois dont personne ne veut. Sans le moindre filet de sécurité. Bienvenue dans le monde occulte des sans-papiers de Montréal.

Les travailleurs invisibles

Alors qu’un flot de demandeurs d’asile, apeurés par le national-populisme de Donald Trump, déferle à la frontière canado-américaine, alors que Denis Coderre déclare Montréal «ville sanctuaire», nous avons voulu mettre en lumière le quotidien des sans-papiers. Nous avons découvert que Montréal est encore loin d’être la terre d’asile proclamée par le maire. À bien des égards, elle est moins hospitalière que des métropoles américaines comme Los Angeles et New York, qui ont depuis longtemps adopté des politiques concrètes pour soutenir les sans-papiers sur leur territoire.

Montréal suivra bientôt les traces de ces villes américaines en offrant divers services et, surtout, en limitant au maximum la collaboration de ses policiers avec les agents d’immigration, a assuré le maire Coderre.

Mais ce n’est encore qu’un projet. Pour le moment, 70% des sans-papiers de la métropole n’arrivent peu ou pas à satisfaire leurs besoins personnels ou ceux de leur famille, révèlent les données préliminaires d’une étude menée par l’Institut de recherche en santé publique de Montréal. Près de la moitié d’entre eux manque carrément de nourriture. Et 40% craignent d’être déportés s’ils tentent d’obtenir des services publics.

Cette crainte pesante, omniprésente, les pousse à tolérer les abus de ceux qui profitent de leur vulnérabilité, en sachant parfaitement qu’ils n’ont pas le loisir de se plaindre.

Source: Enquête: le Montréal des sans-papiers | Isabelle Hachey | Enquêtes