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Report: Immigration Linked to Lower Crime Rates in Illinois

March 25, 2008

Chicago, IL – Illinois communities that have become magnets for new immigrants are not magnets for violent crime. A new study from Harvard University blows up the stereotype that more immigrants mean more crime. In fact, the study found exactly the opposite in Chicago and across the state: areas that attract immigrants, even people without papers, have significantly lower crime rates.

Joshua Hoyt is with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

"We need to admit the fact that the vast overwhelming majority of immigrants are here to work and to contribute to our nation, and that's what they do."

Hoyt says the demographics of immigrants in Illinois show a cross-section of people, education levels, and income.

"In Illinois, immigrants are 12.5 percent of the population, but they do 27 percent of the low-skilled work, and are 28 percent of the PhDs."

The study also found that the connection between immigration and lower crime rates does not apply only to Latinos in Illinois; it also extends to immigrants from Eastern Europe and Africa.

Critics of the study say immigrants here without papers are already breaking the law by that fact, and that should be tallied as part of the crime rate.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - IL