Immigrants make up 17% of the US labor force. They boost business and economic productivity. However, some blame unemployment and low wages on their competition with native laborers.

Former President Trump saw illegal immigrants as a threat to public safety and the labor force. He claimed aliens were responsible for 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings.  

However, there is not enough data to support his claim. Only Texas has reliable immigrant crime data, suggesting they do little harm.

Let's check the numbers on illegal immigration to see if it's true.

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  • 73% of Americans believe that immigration causes crime.
  • 4.4 million children have an undocumented parent.
  • Only 3% of those arrested in 2012–2018 were illegal immigrants.
  • Only 16% of drug traffickers were illegal immigrants in 2018.
  • 39% believe that illegal immigrants are responsible for bringing Fentanyl to the US.
  • Native men are 5 times more likely to get incarcerated than immigrants.
  • Only 1.3% of immigrant high school dropouts were incarcerated.

Undocumented Immigrants Crime Statistics Overview

Immigrant—the word itself has a bad connotation. 49% of Americans say immigrants strengthen the economy with their skills and services. Still, one-third of the population thinks they're a burden.

Due to their illegal status, illegal immigrants are often viewed as criminals. However, the statistics, trends, and demographics will show this is untrue.

Crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants Statistics

FAIR estimates 15.5 million illegal aliens in the US; some see them as a taxpayer burden. They cost six times more than the taxes that they pay.

Each alien also costs $8,776 annually. Not only that, people believe they threaten public safety. However, crime has decreased despite the immigration influx since the 1980s.

It’s stricter law enforcement and higher incarceration rates that have reduced crime. Even so, immigrants cannot be blamed. Refer to the statistics below:

(Social Science Research Council, Patriot, Vanderbilt University Law School)

60% of Americans believe that immigrants cause Americans to lose jobs. The media portrays immigrants as a threat to public safety. The government does so, too. For instance:

  • In 1986, the US passed the Immigration Reform Control and Relief Act. This act prevents employers from hiring unauthorized immigrants.
  • In 1994, the Save Our State referendum barred immigrants from free healthcare and education in California.
  • In 2006, Pennsylvania passed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act Ordinance. This act imposed sanctions on illegal immigrants who stayed for 180 days or more. 

2. There were 4.2 million babies born to illegal immigrants in 2008.

(Pew Research Center, American Immigration Council)

A person born in the United States is a US citizen, regardless of their origins. Since 1896, this has been the principle. Despite being born US citizens, they are not in the same position as native-born US citizens.

4.4 million children have undocumented parents, and 500,000 have had a parent deported. Arizona passed Proposition 300 in 2016, barring these children from free education. 

Discrimination against immigrant children, both socially and governmentally, has harmful consequences. The negative impact shows: 45% of deported children lose their homes.

3. 47% of immigrants from 2015–2020 finished college.

(Migration Policy Institute,, Forbes)

53.7% of Americans obtained a college degree in 2021. Education is said to reduce crime, but the numbers are not definite. Research shows that some crimes, like tax fraud and embezzlement, are linked to higher education.

The crime rates of immigrants and citizens also speak for themselves. Compared to citizen graduates, immigrants commit fewer crimes. 

From 2012 to 2018, illegal immigrants had the lowest crime rate. There is also a significant difference between the crime rates of undocumented immigrants and US-born citizens.

The gap has even widened because of increased crime rates among US-born citizens. Here are the latest trends:

4. Only 3% of those arrested in 2012–2018 were illegal immigrants.

(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

PNAS surveyed the arrests of US-born citizens, legal immigrants, and illegal immigrants. Only 3% of those arrested were illegal immigrants, compared to 87% of US-born citizens.

The data shows that US-born citizens are more prone to crime than illegal immigrants. The number of arrests debunks the belief that illegal immigrants threaten society.

5. Only 16% of drug traffickers were illegal immigrants in 2018.

(Cato Institute, ABC News)

Immigrants are often seen as the primary suspects in the drug trade, not only by the general public but also by lawmakers. 

In 2016, there was a 269% surge in Fentanyl overdose deaths. 39% of Americans blame illegal immigrants for bringing Fentanyl to the US.

It was found in 2018 that only 16% of drug traffickers were illegal immigrants. 77% of drug traffickers were Americans. The proportion matches the 2011–2017 data. 70% of drug traffickers were Americans, and 21% were illegal immigrants. 

Illegal Immigrants Crime Demographic Statistics

Illegal immigrants seek better opportunities in the US due to its large economy. However, the government is not always immigrant-friendly.

You can see it in the number of undocumented immigrants overstaying their visas. Despite their image as a threat, statistics show that immigrants are not responsible for most crimes.

Here are some vital demographic statistics to consider:

6. Second-generation immigrants have a 23% chance of committing a crime.

(Pew Research)

Native-born citizens have a 25% chance of committing a crime, while first-generation immigrants have a 17% chance.

Second-generation immigrants are Americans born to immigrants. They represent about 10% of the adult population and have a 23% chance of committing a crime.

7. Native men are 5 times more likely to get incarcerated than immigrants.

(Social Research Council)

Stereotypes link immigrants to crime due to their perceived lower education levels. However, the opposite is true. 

Contrary to the general public's perception, immigrants have a low crime rate. The incarceration rate for native men aged 18–39 was 3.5 percent. For those who are immigrants, it was only 0.7 percent.

Mexican men comprise a third of the immigrant population. Mexican-born men have an incarceration rate of 5.9%. Mexican immigrants, on the other hand, have a 0.7% incarceration rate.

8. Only 1.3% of immigrant high school dropouts were incarcerated.

(Social Research Council)

Male high school dropouts have a higher risk of imprisonment than graduates. 9.8% of native high school dropouts from 18 to 39 years old were incarcerated.

Only 1.3% of immigrant high school dropouts in the same age group were incarcerated. Even among high school dropouts, immigrants have lower crime rates than natives. 

Final Thoughts

Not all hope is lost. Today's government and citizens view immigrants more humanely. In 2023, only 24% of Americans believe they are a burden, while 66% say they strengthen the country.

On his first day, President Joe Biden proposed the US Citizenship Act to Congress. It seeks to reunify families broken apart by the immigration system. The Dream Act has also been introduced so illegal immigrant children can become citizens. 

The numbers also show that illegal immigrants do not threaten public safety. Though the perspective on immigrants has changed, there is still a long way to go.