It’s the jobs, stupid

Study finds immigrants commit less California crime | U.S. | Reuters:

Among men 18 to 40, the population most likely to be in institutions because of criminal activity, the report found that in California, U.S.-born men were institutionalized 10 times more often than foreign-born men (4.2 percent vs. 0.42 percent). Among other findings in the report, non-citizen men from Mexico 18 to 40 — a group disproportionately likely to have entered the United States illegally — are more than eight times less likely than U.S.-born men in the same age group to be in a correctional institution (0.48 percent vs. 4.2 percent).

Obviously there are going to be some problems with a study like this — you don’t know how big the differential is in the rate that undocumented folks get caught for crimes, and you don’t know the distribution of crimes, for example — but it only makes sense. Immigrants in general run in smaller, more circumscribed circles than native-born citizens. So unless they’re members of a particular, well-organized criminal (which most criminals aren’t) they’re going to have more trouble making money breaking non-immigration laws than they would working at regular jobs.

Also, pretty much by definition immigrants are the ones with initiative, with skills of some kind, with the ability to save money and make contacts. Otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten this far. And in communities with jobs on offer, it’s more often than not the people who can’t get or hold jobs who turn to criminal activity in the first place, which lets out most folks with the courage and discipline to get over the border. Of course, our immigration system forces all the undocumented folks into constant contact with  organized criminal enterprises for transportation, documentation, protection, money-transfer and so on. Highly productive.

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