Are Illegal Aliens Less Likely to Commit Crime?

Apologists for illegal aliens often assert that illegal aliens are more law abiding than legal U.S. residents. An example is this comment from an assistant sociology professor at the University of Dayton: “The private prison industry has profited immensely from dramatic increases in immigrant detention-increases that have taken place despite research showing immigrants commit less crime in their communities than native-born U.S. residents.”

That assertion is true only if the term “immigrants” is defined to mean only persons who entered the country legally as immigrants. But the assistant professor was making an argument that we should accommodate illegal aliens because they have been exploited, so it is clear from the context that he is using the term “immigrant” to refer to those who came illegally or stayed illegally after a legal entry. The data show that this population commits more – not less – crime than native-born Americans.

Our study here documents that overall illegal and deportable alien population in state and local prisons is on average disproportionately large – fifty percent higher than their share of the overall population – and comparatively larger than the share of native-born prisoners. Those incarcerated aliens are not in prison because of their illegal status or some other immigration violation, because those offenses result in federal detention. FAIR’s study’s does not include the illegal and deportable aliens in federal detention.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    As the government continues to present a reform that promises no more enforcement than the current laws in place we are mis-directed to the so called “undocumented” aliens in order to avert us from teh true lack of enforcement on those we have documented.

    My ex came in on student visa yet never went to school and worked illegally for three years (student visa fraud). Got green card by not mentioning her first arrest for theft (material misrepresentation). Failed to mention it again when conditions were removed (again material misrepresentation). Has acquired four additional theft convictions (crimes of moral turpitude). Denied citizenship 2 years ago but continues to reside in US and break our laws. Goes in and out of the country like she’s a citizen. Unfortunately I found this all out after the fact. It’s ICE that needs reform not the immigration laws.

  2. avatar

    Seriously, do we really need people making these blanket statements that only serve to undermine the efforts of the Opposition to illegal immigration. Who died and made him an authority and expert? It’s clear his view is distorted, and Obama has other clowns and puppets in his circus administration and in Academia, to do much the same. The polls are whacked, way off the mark, yet the ‘spin’ media places ‘appears’ like the American public wants a pathway to citizenship for unlawful residents. Boehner ought to keep his word ‘no rewards for illegality’—-extending compassion for Dreamers IS a reward, so perish the thought! Bombard his office with faxes and phone calls til month end to recess. Try and attend town hall meetings in August—be heard!get involved!

  3. avatar
    John Winthrop on

    “The data show that this population commits more – not less – crime than native-born Americans.”….how so if we do not exactly know how many and who they are………………………..out of the 11 million how many commit crimes…………and out of the 330 of us how many…let’s compare and see the percent….we might get a big surprise…………..

    • avatar

      Dept of Justice has figures on incarceration by race/ethnicity, but not legal status. Assuming the figures for illegal aliens 18-29 follow those of Hispanic males in general, the rate of incarceration in state and federal prisons for Hispanics is several times that of Whites, but less than that of Blacks. .

      • avatar
        John Winthrop on

        Ali sure…..such as 39 % white. 37% blacks and 17% hispanics for WE:FARe……

  4. avatar
    Alfred Kneer on

    All illegals should be deported as soon as they are found. Their children have to go with them because children do not belong to the state where they were born, they belong to their parents. This stupid law must be repealed.

    to stop this invation, we must seal the border, othewise we are going to have same problem a few years down the road. However, allthis could be prevented if the government would enforce excisting laws. So the problem goes right back to the Idiods in Washington , and the Whitehouse. Once amnesty is given to illegals, they will vote for the party that gave it to them and that is what the democrats are looking for.

  5. avatar

    When it comes to crime reports in Las Vegas, the TV stations haven’t mentioned the word, ” illegal”, for years. A heavy harry reid influence, I’m sure. One station did mention that ICE was interested in two brothers, day laborers, who kidnapped a teen one morning. That’s as close as they’ve come to indicating “illegal” so we don’t know how many crimes are committed by those who should not be in our state, our country.

    • avatar

      I’d be suprised if “illegal alien” status is even a category in most crime reports. Or “Hispanic”. For example, the FBI “hate crime” statistics only use the category “Hispanic” for VICTIMS of crimes, not for perpetrators. Guess Hispanic perpetrators get categorized as “White” or “Black” or maybe even “Asian”.

      • avatar

        I met one on the Mexican brothers my friends had as exchange students, one at a time. They were nice young men and probably are an asset to Mexico, unlike so many of the throwaways their government wants American taxpayers to pay for their upkeep. Some Republicans see illegal aliens as votes, if they give them amnesty, when they can’t be more wrong. Democrats see them as undocumented Democrat voters, that will lead to permanent Democrat rule. Lord help us if that ever happens. Most Mexican illegal aliens do not want to be Americans, they just want the benefits paid by American taxpayers.

        My study of history tells me, this would lead to a total abandonment of the government structure, including our Constitution, our Founders created. This would surely lead to ethnic cleansing and civil war, no different than what happened in Yugoslavia, after Tito’s death.

  6. avatar

    I live in a state of 730,000 with an estimated *10,000+ illegals costing *$138 million a year (*FAIR estimates). They’re gang banging here but is rarely discussed. They ride the streets in their pimped out low riders displaying their country colors on their rear view mirrors and ethnic identity stamped on their license plates. They give you the stink eye when you make contact with them and thumb their noses at you signaling …yea gringo whatcha gonna do! They sit around in public businesses talking their non English babble on cell phones, their runts running rampant and they don’t buy a damn thing. One customer assistant told me they use that tactic to distract the store staff so they can steal goods and walk out of the door. I’ve never felt so disgusted and betrayed by my own government that allow the destruction of good communities to appease these criminals.

  7. avatar

    What I believe is missing in this research paper is all the children of illegals. Those background is part of the gang element or not. They all are part of the unseen criminal illegal connection.

  8. avatar

    and not only that, they are suddenly like the pretender in chief gives lots of entilments. everyone does NOT gets the freePASS.

    • avatar

      It so sickening to know that many Americans, and American politicians, believe that illegal aliens do not do that much crime in America, actually they do more then Americans, it not being allow to be seen, all of what they really do has been thrown under the carpet, because our laws, has chosen to ignore what they do, because they want them to look good, so they can pass a bill for their amnesty or legalization, all their wrongdoing is and still are being so sugarcoated! Americans are not allow to say anything about all their wrongdoings, if so suddenly Americans are the bad guys, or they just are racist. Illegal aliens had found ways to scheme and scam our American system, found ways to sale or buy false social security numbers, false names, birth certificates false driver license, false residence, they are allow to present all this false information to get in millions of our American jobs, schools! And of course this is with the help of Obama, and our American businesses. Illegal aliens are also allow to take strong advantage of our American birthrights for their own purpose, they just are using this gateway to America very strongly, and their is no one who have the sense to stop them, they are sneakily building their over population through our birthrights! Who would allow of this, when another country had invaded your country??? No other country would, just America!!!

      Now if all of this that they do is not a crime, what is it?? There is no way Americans can get away on a job with many false social security numbers! actually no American can do anything that illegal aliens do in American period. American citizens are strongly required to have background check most of the time before they are considered hired. What Steve King said about young illegal aliens, he is right, of course no one want to hear what they do, instead they want to just force massive illegal immigration on poor and middle class Americans! I just can not understand what make millions of illegal aliens in our jobs illegally, that know one really knows who they really are, who have no kind of background checks, who have false social security numbers, names, ages, so much more trustworthy to work in our Americans jobs then American citizens who have legal status here, especially when Americans are so strongly required to have background checks before they are even considered hire????

      Sure America have a broken immigration system, that is because our own lawmakers has broken our immigration enforcement, they had blocked all laws that would had save America and it citizens from this massive immigration insanity! Just look at this terrible corruption, there are millions of illegal aliens working in America, while at the same time there are millions of Americans left jobless, especially Black Americans, all this is saying something about our President, our congress! They have allow to much of their compassion for millions of illegal aliens get in the way of our laws!

      • avatar

        I see this as part of Obama’s “fundamental change” of America. This, as well as his “Unaffordable Health Control Act, is all part of his agenda of bringing America down; destroying our economy, with massive debt that could never be paid. Either one of these are enough to destroy our economy. If we can’t defund his IHCA Sept. 30, it will be a cancer that will kill our Republic. There are many that don’t see this, at their peril.


  9. avatar

    sneaky america haters. any one who thought anything good would take the time to get his or her “papers”. lazy greedy and wise a$$ punks.

  10. avatar

    “But the assistant professor was making an argument that we should accommodate illegal aliens because they have been exploited,”

    Is this clown related to Joseph Goebbels?

  11. avatar

    face facts people there is no such thing as a NON criminal illegal
    1st they entered the U.S. in an illegal manner strike one
    second they used false ID and fake or stolen SSN strike two
    third they sought employment using these false documents strike three

    Lets be honest ALL illegals are criminals
    the only reason they try to fly under the radar is so they wont get caught before the next amnesty
    now with turd boy in our nations highest orifice these criminals are not even trying to hide
    they are now allowed to commit their crimes openly and with out fear of prosecution
    so much for the rule of law and justice.

  12. avatar

    I was involved in a hit and run auto crash, no accident. Two illegals with a new unlicensed 3/4 ton Chevy truck and a pallet of stolen bricks from their employer. These guys are brothers trying to get back to dump the loot and get back to work before being missed. They ran a stop sign and T-boned my VW Quantum, spinning me around into oncoming traffic and high tailed it away with a flat tire and mashed left rear quarter panel. They only watched me from their rear window as I shook my fist at them. An off duty LA County jailer on a motorcycle stopped and ask what had happened and he caught them two miles up the road. They were arrested and I pressed charges. But, within a week they were bailed out and left the country for awhile. I bet my life they are back in LA again. They bought the truck, had no license nor insurance. I lost , lost and lost some more. I had to have a neck operation out of my own pocket and my workers insurance and no way to collect for damages for my car. This turkey from U.D.-OH is dumber than a box of rocks and I am from OHIO myself, where everyone has insurance except the criminal element. Wise up

    • avatar

      Hey Carl, I could only wish that it had ended as well for my relatives who were killed by illegal alien drunk drivers in Northern California. They were two couples in two separate accidents, the children who were not with them are now orphans, losing both parents at once. No one out here seems to care. All of our representatives are voting for that new bill S.744 to legal the lot of them, criminals and all!!

  13. avatar
    James Watson on

    Some people think the act of entering this country without a pass port, or being invited is fine. Of course these aliens don’t get into any trouble. They go to work to support their families and never take anything away from the Native Americans here. No Social Security, No government handouts. they all pay their fair share of taxes they donate to every great cause that takes place.

  14. avatar

    And what about them buying cars and not making the payments until the repo man comes and takes it away.And causing accidents and leaving the scene because they don’t have insurance.Even some of the legal ones do these things.It’s past time to deport them all.Go to their country illegally and see what happens to you!

    • avatar

      Neither did your ancestors that came here and forced theirs out by rapping and killing their woman and children, lucky they are not coming to get what belongs to them in the first place the same way your ancestors took it from them.
      there are lots of US citizens going to their countries and are doing a lot worst than what this so called immigrants are doing here all they want is work, while the US citizen goes there to hurt their land cause they know they can buy police and their government and keep hurting their poor community with the drugs and human trafficking.

      I just hope and pray for some day that every one stops fussing bout who belongs where and that all crime will stop and everyone can enjoy any part of earth with out worries of others thinking is theirs or that their race is better then the other. every one deserves to eat and have a nice safe place to live it don’t matter where, just as long as is not done by taking away from others by force(killing, rapping, dealing, etc)

      Everyone here putting all this nasty comments put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself if you would not do the same if you know of an opportunity to give your family a better life. I know I would cause everyone know if know a loved one needs help you do anything to help them

      • avatar

        I’ve got news for you, Eve. I’m sure you don’t know this is the wealthiest country in the world because the people who came here were hard working and wanted something better, whether for religious reasons, land, a new start in life or to make money. Many were so poor or persecuted in their old countries that they sailed on small, rat-infested ships, where they ate wormy hardtack and rotten meat to get here. They died by the thousands on those ships and many died the first year they got here because they didn’t have enough food and lived in leaky dugouts.

        You and your leftwing pals never bother to think of that, do you? These people died to get their families here. They didn’t come here for welfare, free medical care or anything else but freedom. Freedom that you don’t appreciate because you’re so damned spoiled! You spout drivel about all getting along but have you ever done anything but simply wish it could be so. You can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one gets filled first. Wishing doesn’t make anything so.

        So stop with the “rapping” (raping) and murdering. Most of the people who came here wouldn’t have had the strength to do any such thing. They were lucky if they survived their first winter.

        You know no history of this country and are not interested in learning it. You don’t like it? Go find another country where you have the freedoms up until now we had in this country. Get out! and take your illegals with you! We are the ones who are being sinned against. We should have erected that wall in the 1970s and we wouldn’t have all the illegals here and have to deal with lunatics like you!

  15. avatar

    Our state, Oregon is full of illegals. The only ones who are worth a damn are the ones who have assimilated into our way of life. There are hoards of illegal gangs in the Portland area who could care less about the law and respect for the honest citizens. These gangs run wild through the city and the authorities do little to stop them. We are this close to packing up and moving out.

    • avatar

      this gang you talk about are probably legal citizens born here, cause any illegal gang member gets sent back very fast and you don’t need to move, why not put your foot down and get them kicked out go to a pay phone and tip them off to ICE, this are the trash that makes it hard for the ones who are working hard to get out of poverty. I don’t want more people coming here illegally but I do believe that everyone deserves a chance and there should be better security at the border and those here already need to get their papers and work to fix their countries from all the corruption instead of fighting them why not try to work with them in helping them fix their countries to help this one too.

  16. avatar


    • avatar


  17. avatar

    How is this idiot from Ohio qualified to act like he knows how & what illegal aliens do??? He hasn’t lived in the West & Southwest where most of the illegal Mexicans illegally “immigrate” into our country. They only started coming to Kentucky about 10 years ago; the residents here are just beginning to find out how honest they are! We’ve had a huge increase in crime, largely from Mexicans because they won’t learn English to find a job so they have no income. What do you think anyone with no money does? They rob, burglarize, and even murder to get money to feed their families. I was born and raised in the Southwest so know how it goes. I lived in a middle-class neighborhood that was 1/2 Mexican; my Mexican friends were 2nd generation Mexican-Americans. Most of their parents, some of whom didn’t speak great English but were learning, had great jobs or some kind of jobs. Of course I don’t know how many of their parents were legal or illegal but these immigrants learned the way of OUR country to make it THEIR country too! These Mexicans were eager to find a better life for their kids and did! The illegals who won’t even attempt to learn English are the ones causing trouble but they keep coming over the border in droves adding to our crime rates. If they ILLEGALLY enter our country, they had committed their 1st crime already, Mr. Professor. How did he get to be a professor with his idiotic comments that apologize for the illegal entry into our country? Why do we not consider immigrants from other countries who have been waiting for years to immigrate? There are people from Ireland, England, Germany, Africa, etc. who would love to enter our country LEGALLY just a Mexicans should have to do! I’m tired of the disproportionate numbers! We’re supposed to be the great melting pot, not just Mexican America! If you ever see a Mexican in America, Mr. Professor, I’ll bet you’ll be surprised way up there in Ohio! Idiot!

  18. avatar
    BenDoubleCrossed on

    Why do these immigrants come to America “illegally” or over stay their visas and become illegal? They come for opportunity for a better life; right? Well let’s flip that idea. Why didn’t they stay in their “failed” countries and work to make them like America? By allowing them to flaunt our laws and importing their language, culture and poverty; is America becoming a failed State?

    We hear stories of the children who were brought by their parents and now cannot understand why they aren’t American citizens. Often it is American politicians who plead the children’s case. But it is politicians who are responsible for creating unreasonable expectations. If the existing immigration laws had been enforced, the parents and their children would have gone home on the expiration of their visas.

    An aide in Senator Rubio’s office commented several week ago that American workers are not necessarily the best workers. Even if true, that does not give Uncle Sam authority to place foreign workers ahead of American citizens. I suggest Senator Rubio’s aide review the Preamble to the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

  19. avatar

    All illegals should be taken out of AMERICA!! NO AMNESTY FOR ILLEGALs & THIER KIDS!! Companys that hire illegal should be FINED & FINED AGAIN!! Tyson chicken factors in thier fines & keeps on hiring scumbag illegals. Guess who buys chiken from Tyson?? KFC , I have not bought anything from this chain in years , caue they but thier chiken from scumbag tyson!!
    Don’t ya think it’s time to take AMERICA back ?
    NO AMNESTY FOR illegals!!
    I’m a MARINE . Not a coward politican

  20. avatar

    O’bummer has a illegal alien aunt, and a illegal alien drunk uncle here in America who’s Visa’s have expired
    years ago!. And the worst part is that the p/RESIDENTS Birth certificate looks as phony as he and his staff.

    Our Government creates millions of Visa passes, with no one enforcing foreigners to return home when their
    VISA EXPIRES!! leaving America flooded with criminals, including the Fence jumpers/ and Rio River swimmers.

    The USA needs to stop The ANCHOR BABY INVASION with simply saying if the parents are here illegally,
    then so is the BABY!. The solution to these many US border invasions is indeed “DEPORTATION”..

  21. avatar

    Let’s see, an “Illegal Alien” is illegal. Meaning they entered this great country “Illegally”. That’s a crime. Since they entered the country illegally,?they’re a criminal! Everything they do from that point on is a “Crime” ! Okay wordsmiths, figure it out. Illegal by definition is a “Crime”! Go figure it out! Our “Experts” can be so idiotic at times. Oh but how stupid can I be, I’m not a college professor, I’m just a lowly physician who works for a living unlike a professor at any liberal institution of “higher learning”. Illegal means a crime has been committed, I think!

    • avatar
      Mark in the light on

      What are you doing about it? Get involved! It’s great that we get on these blogs we need to do more! Get involved! Call your senate and congress men and woman, tell them how you feel! Join the tea party in your area, talk to your neighbors, tell them the truth? God bless!

  22. avatar

    He needs to visit the prison system where most of the inmates are illegal immigrants. Typical Obamanized Liberal idiot.

  23. avatar
    John Winthrop on

    People are people….we have all kinds in all types………..same for us………..BUT the honest illegals are most likely good people……………

    • avatar

      And exactly what is “honest” about being here illegally and using false identification of several types?

      • avatar

        What I believe is missing in these research papers is the number of children of illegals whose children were born here or not that part of the criminal gangs element, thus are part of the unseen criminal illegal connection.

        • avatar
          John Winthrop on

          Wayne finally somebody that is within our reality and THOSE who are not criminals as well…

    • avatar

      GROW UP !! I thought all the people like you ,fron the 60’s . Grew up and got jobs like real people do. maybe you can’t get a job ,is some scumbag illegal was hired cause he or she will work for squat!! When I came home after NAM , if you wanted to wok . You could alwat get a job. WHY ? Cause you were a VET !! These scumbag lowlife ilegals are takin jobs away fron AMERICANS!!! I used to do roofing ,siding, frameing & drywall. Guess what ? There was never a scumbag illegal on the job!! Wake up my fellow AMERICANS ! The only scumbags who want amnesty for illegals are the scumacrats!! This way they can run thier coimmi ******** & KILL THIS ONCE GREAT COUNRTY AMERICA!! I’m A MARINE , I wil not let this happen!!!
      SEMPER FI, an old pieed off MARINE

    • avatar

      Good people are not criminally oriented. The only Americans that are more criminal that the border jumpers are the ghetto, welfare gangstahs . 90% of the prison inmates are either blacks, or the illegals from south of the border.
      Illegals case my neighborhood looking for something to steal. . AND THEY ARE HONEST? They all have 20 different names that they go by, so as to not be ‘habitual’ criminals. The blacks are selling drugs .

  24. avatar

    Just look at the hundreds of thousands of gang members in California alone. Why is it any surprise that illegals commit crimes. Their presence in this country without permission is proof they have no respect for our laws. They use fake IDs, obtain drivers licenses under false pretenses, steal or create Social Security numbers, and obtain welfare benefits they are not entitled to. And we think these people will suddenly turn into law abiding citizens?

    • avatar

      There is no such thing as an honest illegal…Also in addition to obtaining driver’s licenses under false pretences (sp) bet you they don’t acquire auto insurance which is required in order to operate a vehicle. Most as I understand it don’t even get the fake license they simply drive without one and without insurance endangering all of us. And stealing SS numbers…honest I ask?

      • avatar
        John Winthrop on

        Bella yes there is such a thing as an honest illegal; otherwise, you would be an American. While going to school I worked in a deli where there were Mexicans in the kitchen,,,,,,,,,,like in the rest of most the Country’s restaurants……..A Colombian who just left the US because his hip was no longer good. He opted for leaving after 26 years………he did not want to get in debt by going to the Hospital……

        He came here because his partner stole from him……….he worked 7 days a week….to send money to his family…..did not see his parents died, his new grandchildren born…BUT sent his children toe EU to have an education………guess what…they amazing surgeons in England………..

        Now that he went back, his wife waited for him faithfully after all these years and he is well taken cared of. In the meantime he paid taxes all these years under his social security which he got when he came here under his name. I am glad the SS will keep it and not a citizen. Also he paid taxes as he made a living here.

        There it goes an honest illegal nobody ever cared 26 years ago and The People gave him a job and at the end he contributed to the system and decided to go home……no fake SS, no fake driver license, and the owners of the different places he worked DID TRUST HIM…………………..

        Live and learn,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,be compassionate………… your research…be an American.

    • avatar
      John Winthrop on

      No surprise why some of us AMericans commit crimes as well………………