Illegal Aliens & Crime

Illegal Aliens & Crime


The Truth About Illegal Aliens and Crime
By John Perazzo
March 2024

The Myth of the Law-Abiding Illegal Alien

In December 2023, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) personnel encountered 301,983 aliens who had crossed America’s unprotected southern border unlawfully. That astonishing, unprecedented figure pushed the total number of illegals who had entered U.S. territory during the 12-month calendar year to roughly 2.54 million. And if we include also the 70,000 so-called “got-aways” known to have crossed the border and slipped into the American interior each month without ever having been detected by a CBP agent, the 2023 total jumps to about 3.4 million. That is more than the populations of every city in the United States except New York and Los Angeles, and also more than the populations of 22 separate U.S. states – all flooding across the U.S. border in just a single year.

The foregoing 2023 figures were preceded by approximately 2.58 million illegal border-crossers in calendar year 2022, and 2.04 million in 2021. If we also factor in the “got-aways” – an estimated 600,000 in 2022 and 389,000 in 2021 – the grand total for 2021 through 2023, the first three years of the Biden administration, rises to approximately 9 million. That is more than the populations of every city in America, and more than the populations of 39 separate U.S. states.

These figures stand in stark contrast to those of calendar 2020, the final year of the Trump administration, when there were 516,908 encounters with illegal border-crossers, plus another 119,000 “got-aways,” for a combined total of just under 636,000 – scarcely 18.7 percent of the 2023 total under the Biden regime. 

In light of the massive number of newcomers who are currently entering our country and transforming its demographics in this manner, we ought to be highly concerned about who, exactly, these people are, and how they might be expected to affect the lives and well-being of the American people.

For many years, the defenders of open-borders immigration policies and their allies in the media have claimed that illegal aliens, per capita, commit fewer crimes against persons and property than do native-born American citizens. For example:

  • Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer tweeted in November 2022: “Immigrants, undocumented, documented, have a higher rate of employment & a lower rate of crime than average Americans — so all the BS spread by these right-wing people, the nastiness, it’s just not true.”
  • Scientific American cites research indicating that “undocumented immigrants” are “less than half as likely to be arrested for violent crimes or drug offenses and less than a quarter as likely to be arrested for property crimes.”
  • The Washington Post reports that “native-born residents” are “much more likely to be convicted of a crime than immigrants in the [United States] legally or illegally.”
  • The Los Angeles Times editorial board asserts that “the homicide conviction rate for … illegal immigrants [is] below that of native-born Americans.”

But these and a host of other major political figures and publications routinely base such claims on the findings of studies that either: (a) intentionally manipulate data in a manner designed to support a false and deceptive narrative, or (b) fail to take into account key information that, if it were to be factored into the analysis, would yield a very different conclusion.

For example, many studies of the relationship between immigrants and crime do not distinguish between illegal aliens on the one hand, and their legal immigrant counterparts on the other. Instead, they conflate the two groups and categorize them all, generically, as “immigrants.”

In other cases, as Peter Kirsanow of National Review points out: “Illegal-immigrant crime calculations conveniently and invariably [leave] out the millions of crimes committed by illegal immigrants related to procuring fraudulent social security numbers, obtaining false drivers’ licenses, using fraudulent green cards, and improperly accessing public benefits.”

Similarly, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) observes that many “researchers intentionally elect to leave out broad classes of crimes, for example, drug offenses — as the Cato Institute frequently does.” “[M]ost federal, state and local government agencies do not collect data on the rates at which illegal aliens are convicted of crimes,” FAIR adds. “Most likely, this is due to political correctness, and a desire to keep the truth about the number of crimes committed by illegal aliens from coming to light.”

In a March 2017 article in The Hill, Ronald Mortensen writes that: (a) a then-recent Cato Institute study concluded that “legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives,” and (b) a separate report by the Sentencing Project (SP) claimed that “foreign-born residents of the United States commit crime less often than native-born citizens.” But early in his piece, Mortensen highlights the illogic of the Cato and SP conclusions by pointing out the plain fact that:

“[V]irtually all adult, illegal aliens commit felonies in order to procure the documents they need to get jobs, to drive and to obtain other benefits that are restricted to U.S. citizens. The vast majority [approximately 75 percent] of illegal aliens use fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers. They possess fake drivers’ licenses, phony ‘green cards,’ fraudulent birth certificates and any other documents that U.S. citizens and legal residents have. In addition, they falsify I-9 forms under penalty of perjury. Thus, the average illegal alien routinely commits multiple felonies – forgery, Social Security fraud, identity theft, and perjury.”

Mortensen further explains that because “neither the study from Cato or The Sentencing Project acknowledged these realities,” they “tremendously understated the incidence of illegal alien criminal activity.”

Yet another weakness of the Cato study, says Mortensen, was its heavy reliance on the incarceration rates of illegal immigrants, even though the immigration status of prisoners generally was not recorded by local and state governments. “The Cato study consequently excluded felonies routinely committed by the vast majority of adult, illegal aliens,” Mortensen writes, “as long as they were not incarcerated, resulting in a significant understatement of the overall incidence of crimes committed by illegal aliens.”

In a June 2017 analysis, the Heritage Foundation’s Hans A. von Spakovsky issues an additional critique of the Cato and SP studies:

“Instead of using official crime data, these reports also use surveys. The Sentencing Project measures ‘crime and related behavior based on self-reported accounts of behavior,’ and Cato uses the United States Census American Community Survey (ACS). For obvious reasons, there is little incentive for anyone, let alone criminal aliens, to self-report their crimes. Many respondents will likely also fail to disclose that they are not a citizen out of fear of discovery and deportation.”

In an October 2022 Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) report, co-authors Sean Kennedy, Jason Richwine, and Steven Camarota point out how two prior studies in particular – widely cited by Democrats and media outlets – grossly underestimated the incidence of illegal-alien crime.

First, the CIS authors examine a February 2018 study by Cato Institute scholar Alex Nowrasteh, who, on the basis of 2015 data from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), wrongly concluded that “the conviction and arrest rates for illegal immigrants were lower than those for native-born Americans.” “Nowrasteh’s error,” CIS says, “was to treat as native-born anyone who had not yet been categorized as a legal or illegal immigrant. He failed to understand the DPS ‘other/unknown’ [immigration status] category and the movement of illegal immigrants out of that category [and into the ‘illegal immigrant’ category] over time.” As the CIS report further elaborates:

“When people are arrested in Texas, the state’s [DPS] sends their fingerprints to the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to determine immigration status. Illegal immigrants who have had [previous] encounters with immigration officials, such as at the border or during a prior arrest, will be identified by DHS and then flagged as illegal in the DPS data. However, the immigration status of a significant share of immigrants arrested in Texas cannot be verified by this system because immigration officials have never [before] encountered them. Therefore, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (DCJ) continues to investigate the immigration status of offenders while they are incarcerated…. Over time, authorities could identify additional illegal immigrants who were previously categorized as ‘other/unknown’ and reclassify them as illegal…. [T]he number of illegal immigrants arrested or incarcerated in Texas is in a perpetual state of undercount.”

To illustrate their point, the CIS authors analyze statistics pertaining to illegal aliens who were convicted of homicide in Texas during 2012. When counting only those perpetrators whom DHS identified as illegals at the time of their arrest (in 2012), the homicide conviction rate among illegals (convictions divided by population) was 2.7 per 100,000 – a figure 10 percent lower than the 3.0 per 100,000 rate of Texas’ overall population. But when counting also the convicted killers who were identified as illegal aliens in subsequent years while serving time in prison, their overall conviction rate rose to 3.9 per 100,000 – a figure 30 percent higher than that of Texas’ population as a whole.

The CIS report also points out that:

“The longer people with unknown status are in custody, the more likely it is that Texas will correctly ascertain their immigration status. DHS and Texas DCJ have extensive time and incentive to investigate an individual’s immigration status when the crime is murder or sexual assault. Lesser offenses … carry shorter sentences and are a lower priority for deportation purposes, resulting in fewer unknown statuses moving to the ‘illegal immigrant identified in prison’ category over time. Therefore, the most serious crimes tend to generate the most accurate illegal immigrant conviction rates…. While strong claims about the overall criminality of illegal immigrants are not possible with the current data, prior research has understated it substantially.”

The second piece of research that Kennedy, Richwine, and Camarota cite in their October 2022 CIS report is a widely referenced 2020 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), where lead author Michael Light likewise examines Texas DPS data – this time for the years 2012-2018. Noting that this “dataset is ideal” because “Texas is the only state that requires the determination and documentation of immigration status as part of its standard criminal justice records practice,” Light confidently concludes, from the Texas figures, that: “Relative to undocumented immigrants, US-born citizens are over 2 times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and over 4 times more likely to be arrested for property crimes…. [N]ative-born citizens tend to have the highest [crime] rates, undocumented immigrants have the lowest, and legal immigrants are in between.” Indeed, by Light’s reckoning, illegal aliens, contrary to what common sense would tell us, are remarkably law-abiding people.

“But Light,” says the CIS report, “makes the same mistake as Nowrasteh in treating illegals as fully identified by DHS at intake, even though DCJ will go on to identify more illegals who are initially placed in the DPS ‘other/unknown’ category. [And] unlike Nowrasteh, Light then relies on unverified claims made by arrestees about their citizenship and place of birth to both supplement the ‘legal’ arrest category and create a ‘native-born’ category. Not appreciating that arrestees of any claimed status could turn out to be DCJ-identified illegal immigrants, Light inadvertently places some illegals in his ‘legal’ or even ‘native-born’ categories.”

When Alex Nowrasteh collaborated with Andrew Forrester and Michelangelo Landgrave to publish yet another Cato Institute working paper on the relationship between illegal immigration and crime in October 2020, the three authors stated that “the results are similar to our other work on illegal immigration and crime in Texas” – with illegal aliens being convicted at scarcely half the rate of native‐​born Americans. But this latest study suffered from the same weakness as the earlier Cato research: a failure to take into account the fact that many criminal offenders who are in fact illegal aliens, are not yet recognized as such at the time of their arrest.

The Truth About Illegal-Alien Criminality

In a candid articulation of logic and common sense that stands in stark contrast to the claims of the Cato Institute, PNAS, and The Sentencing Project, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) states plainly and succinctly: “The simple fact that illegal aliens violated American immigration laws – and must continuously violate other federal, state and local laws in order to mask their ongoing illegal presence in this country – demonstrates a blatant lack of respect for the rule of law.” Building upon that self-evident truth, FAIR further tells us that “examinations of data on criminal activity by known illegal aliens tend to establish that those who enter the U.S. in violation of our immigration laws also commit other crimes at a higher rate.”

Is FAIR’s claim true? Let us examine, more or less chronologically, the most noteworthy and illuminating research on this subject.

In the winter of 2004, Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald presented some startling facts about the illegal-alien invasion that was already well underway in California:

  • “In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide … target illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants … are for illegal aliens.”
  • “A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia, the dominant force in California prisons, on complex drug-distribution schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations, and commits an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang has grown dramatically over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.”
  • “The leadership of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around L.A.’s MacArthur Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002.”

In 2005, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report which found that criminal aliens (legal and illegal combined) accounted for 27 percent of all prisoners in federal detention facilities across the United States – a figure more than 3 times higher than the 8.6 percent of the nation’s adult population who were non-citizens. But because this study failed to distinguish between legal and illegal migrants, we cannot draw any definitive conclusions regarding what it says about crime by illegal aliens specifically.

In 2005 as well, the GAO released a report that looked at the criminal histories of 55,322 aliens who had “entered the country illegally and were still illegally in the country at the time of their incarceration in federal or state prison or local jail during fiscal year 2003.” Over the course of their criminal careers, those 55,322 illegals had been arrested a combined total of 459,614 times — an average of 8.3 arrests apiece — and had committed almost 700,000 separate criminal offenses, or roughly 12.7 offenses each. Approximately 12 percent of their arrests were for violent crimes such as homicide, robbery, assault, and sex-related offenses; 15 percent were for property offenses like burglary, larceny, theft, and vandalism; 24 percent were for drug crimes; and the rest were for a wide array of transgressions like DUI, fraud, forgery, counterfeiting, weapons violations, immigration crimes, and obstruction of justice.

In 2015, David Frum of The Atlantic reported that according to the GAO, illegals committed 2.89 million criminal offenses between 2003 and 2009, including approximately 70,000 sex crimes, 42,000 robberies, 81,000 auto thefts, 95,000 weapons offenses, 213,000 assaults, and 25,000 homicides.

In April 2017, The Hill reported that according to data from the FBI and the GAO, between 2003 and 2009 some 115,717 murders were committed in the U.S., of which 25,064 were carried out by “criminal aliens.” “In California alone,” added The Hill, “over 2,400 illegal immigrants out of a total prison population of 130,000 are imprisoned in the state’s prison system for the crime of homicide.”

A 2011 study by the GAO found that according to data provided by the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) — a federal government initiative through which states apply to have the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency partially reimburse them for the costs associated with keeping both known and suspected illegal aliens behind bars — a total of 295,959 criminal aliens were incarcerated in state jails and prisons across the United States during Fiscal Year 2009. Approximately 227,600 of them – or 77 percent — were in the U.S. illegally at the time. And the crimes they committed were very often of a serious or grave nature. Indeed, the GAO study examined in particular five states with large illegal-alien populations — Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas. Setting aside traffic offenses:

  • In Arizona, 41 percent of all illegal-alien convictions were for drug crimes and assault.
  • In California and Texas, about half of such convictions were for drugs, assault, and sex offenses.
  • In Florida, roughly 50 percent were for drug offenses, sex crimes, burglary, and robbery.
  • In New York, 23 percent were for drug-related offenses, while an astonishing 27 percent were for homicide.

With regard specifically to the incidence of homicides committed by illegal aliens, the aforementioned 2011 GAO study found that:

  • In Arizona, 68.57 of every 100,000 illegal aliens statewide were actively serving prison time for homicide, vs. a corresponding figure of 54.06 of every 100,000 citizens and legal residents.
  • In California, 97.2 of every 100,000 illegal aliens statewide were in prison for homicide, vs. 74.1 of every 100,000 citizens and legal residents.
  • And in New York, an estimated 168.75 of every 100,000 illegal aliens statewide were incarcerated for homicide, vs. 48.12 of every 100,000 citizens and legal residents.

Because Texas, as a border state, has been a primary destination for countless millions of illegal migrants over the years, it has been hit particularly hard by their criminal behavior. According to an analysis conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), from October 2008 to April 2014, a total of 177,588 unique foreign criminal alien defendants were booked into Texas county jails. Said the Texas DPS report: “A review of these 177,588 defendants shows that they are responsible for at least 611,234 individual criminal charges over their criminal careers, including 2,993 homicides and 7,695 sexual assaults.” Notably, the DPS report included only those criminal aliens who had already been fingerprinted in connection with previous crimes. But as former Department of Justice attorney J. Christian Adams has observed, undoubtedly a great many other criminals simply had not yet been identified as aliens, meaning that “the already stratospheric aggregate crime totals would be even higher if crimes by many illegal aliens who are not in the fingerprint database were included.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) reports that between June 1, 2011 and December 31, 2016, more than 210,000 criminal aliens were booked into Texas jails, and that the Department of Homeland Security identified over 139,000 of them — or about two-thirds — as illegal aliens at the time of their most recent arrest.

  • Over the course of their criminal careers, said TDPS, those 139,000 illegals had been charged with more than 559,000 criminal offenses, including: 1,132 homicides; 5,903 sexual assaults; 66,687 simple and aggravated assaults; 66,289 drug crimes; 16,304 burglaries; 682 kidnappings; 43,723 instances of obstructing police; 39,689 thefts; 3,677 robberies; and 8,375 weapons violations.
  • Moreover, those 559,000 indictments ultimately resulted in about 251,000 convictions including: 464 for homicides; 2,674 for sexual assaults; 24,928 for simple and aggravated assaults; 32,818 for drug crimes; almost 8,000 for burglaries; 228 for kidnappings; 21,480 for instances of obstructing police; 17,956 for thefts; 1,861 for robberies; and 3,495 for weapons violations.

In subsequent years, follow-up studies of Texas inmates showed that the aforementioned trends were continuing unabated:

  • In September 2019, Heritage Foundation scholar Hans A. von Spakovsky wrote: “A recent reportfrom the Texas Department of Public Safety revealed that 297,000 non-citizens had been ‘booked into local Texas jails between June 1, 2011 and July 31, 2019’ [for] local crimes, not immigration violations. The report noted that a little more than two-thirds (202,000) of those booked in Texas jails were later confirmed as illegal immigrants by the federal government.”
  • In December 2021, Spakovsky wrote that “between June 1, 2011, and Nov. 30, 2021, 356,000 criminal aliens were booked into Texas jails, of which over 243,000 [68 percent] were identified as being in the country illegally.”

According to the Center for immigration Studies (CIS), approximately 3.2375 of every 100,000 illegal aliens in Texas were convicted of homicide between 2012 and 2019 — a figure that was 29% higher than the 2.5125 per 100,000 rate among Texas’ overall population. Even more strikingly, 19.125 of every 100,000 illegals in Texas were convicted of sexual assault during that same time frame – about double the 9.85 rate among all Texas residents.

In 2019, Barry Latzer, Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, reported that: “In 2014, Texas illegal-alien murder-arrest rates were 4.99 per 100,000—56 percent higher than the rates for all other apprehended murderers statewide (3.2 per 100,000). In 2015, the rates were 35 percent higher for illegal aliens (4.2 per 100,000, versus 3.1 per 100,000).” “Illegal aliens account for nearly 10 percent of the apprehended murderers in Texas,” added Latzer.

In January 2018, the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) released newly compiled data indicating that non-citizens, who constituted just 8.4 percent of the adult population in the United States – divided almost evenly between legal and illegal immigrants – accounted for fully 44.2% of people convicted of federal crimes (including immigration crimes) between 2011 and 2016. The figure shrank to a still-whopping 21.4% if immigration crimes were excluded from the equation. These disproportions are staggering. While noting that “the commission’s data does not distinguish legal status among non-citizens,” CIS director Steven Camarota asserted that “it is almost certain that a majority of the non-citizens convicted of federal crimes are illegal immigrants.”

The USSC data further showed that between 2011 and 2016, the 8.4 percent of adults nationwide who were non-citizens accounted for fully:

  • 4 percent of kidnapping convictions
  • 5 percent of drug convictions
  • 9 percent of money laundering convictions
  • 4 percent of administration of justice offenses (e.g. witness tampering, obstruction, and contempt)
  • 8 percent of economic crimes (e.g. larceny, embezzlement, and fraud)
  • 13 percent of other convictions (e.g. bribery, civil rights, environmental, and prison offenses)
  • 8 percent of auto thefts

Meanwhile, added the USSC, crime categories in which non-citizens accounted for a share of convictions more-or-less equal to their share of the adult population from 2011-2016, included:

  • 6 percent of assaults
  • 9 percent of homicides
  • 5 percent of firearm crimes

According to data from the United States Sentencing Commission as well, illegal aliens in fiscal year 2014 accounted for 74.1 percent of all federal drug sentences; 16.9 percent of federal drug-trafficking sentences in particular; 20 percent of kidnapping/hostage taking sentences; 12 percent of murder sentences; 19.4 percent of national-defense related sentences; and 36.7 percent of federal crime sentences overall.

In 2015, former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo reported that between 2008 and 2014, “criminal aliens accounted for 38% of all murder convictions in the five states of California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and New York, while illegal aliens constitute only 5.6% of the total population in those states.” Moreover, said Tancredo, “40% of all murder convictions in Florida [during those years] were criminal aliens,” while “[i]n New York it was 34% and Arizona 17.8%.”

A July 2018 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that:

  • Between 2011 and 2016, criminal aliens accounted for anywhere between 21 and 25 percent of America’s federal inmate population. During that same period, federal prisons housed 197,000 criminal aliens who had been arrested 1.4 million times for 2 million separate offenses.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, state and local facilities across the U.S. housed 533,000 criminal aliens who had been arrested 3.5 million times for 5.5 million offenses. “The arrests include allegations of more than 1 million drug crimes, a half-million assaults, 133,800 sex offenses and 24,200 kidnappings,” writes journalist Sharyl Attkisson. “Even more serious, the imprisoned illegal immigrants, over a five-year period, had been arrested for 33,300 homicide-related offenses and 1,500 terrorism-related crimes.” And many were repeat offenders, as Attkisson noted: “Of about 146,500 criminal aliens who finished a federal prison term, about one in six — around 24,800 — already had been imprisoned again at least once.”

In a 2015 National Review piece, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights member Peter Kirsanow reviewed statistics from the Government Accountability Office and Pew Research Center and reported that “approximately 2,430 illegal aliens are in prison just for homicide-related offenses” in California alone.

In a May 2016 story titled “Elusive Crime Wave Data Shows Frightening Toll of Illegal Immigrant Criminals,” Fox News reported that a trove of “local, state and federal statistics” which it had examined, “revealed a wildly disproportionate number of murderers, rapists and drug dealers are crossing into the U.S.” Most notably, illegals constituted an estimated 13.6 percent of those who had been sentenced for all crimes committed nationwide in recent years, as well as 12 percent of those sentenced for murder, 20 percent of those sentenced for kidnapping, and 16 percent of those sentenced for drug trafficking. “The explosive figures show illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population and account for far more crimes than their 3.5-percent share of the U.S. population would suggest,” the Fox report added. Former Department of Justice attorney J. Christian Adams, for his part, described the trend as a “wave of staggering proportions.”

On May 2, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice, in compliance with an order by President Trump, released data on the incarceration rates of illegal aliens. Of the 188,658 inmates who were in the federal prison system at that time, the number who were foreign-born was 45,493, of whom 41,554 were non-citizens. Immigration orders had been issued for more than half of those non-citizens — about 22,541 — while ICE was actively investigating another 13,886 inmates for possible removal.

In a 2018 study of inmates who had been housed in Arizona state prisons between January 1985 and June 2017, John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, concluded that:

Undocumented immigrants are at least 142% more likely to be convicted of a crime than other Arizonans. They also tend to commit more serious crimes and serve 10.5% longer sentences, [are] more likely to be classified as dangerous, and [are] 45% more likely to be gang members than U.S. citizens [are].… While undocumented immigrants from 15 to 35 years of age make up slightly over two percent of the Arizona population, they make up about eight percent of the prison population.… [Y]oung undocumented immigrants commit crime at twice the rate of young U.S. citizens. These undocumented immigrants also tend to commit more serious crimes.”

By contrast, Lott found that legal immigrants “were extremely law-abiding” and had lower crime rates than native-born state residents.

In August 2019, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics released data indicating that non-citizens – an estimated 8.4 percent of the U.S. population — accounted for 64 percent of all federal arrests in 2018. This included 24 percent of all federal drug arrests, 25 percent of all federal property arrests, and 28 percent of all federal fraud arrests. As Heritage Foundation scholar Hans A. von Spakovsky noted: “In 2018, a quarter of all federal drug arrests took place in the five judicial districts along the U.S.-Mexico border. This reflects the ongoing activities of Mexican drug cartels. Last year, Mexican citizens accounted for 40 percent of all federal arrests. In fact, more Mexicans than U.S. citizens were arrested on charges of committing federal crimes in 2018.”

According to 2018 data released by the Justice Department in April 2019, illegal aliens accounted for at least 13% of the federal prison population and nearly 30% of all people in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

According to data published in a report by the Inspector General (IG) for the Department of Homeland Security in fiscal year 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 1,549 removable aliens who had been convicted of homicides. The corresponding figures for the two preceding years were 1,641 in 2018, and 1,531 in 2017, meaning that the grand total for 2017-19 was 4,721. The 2019 IG report also noted that in the most recent fiscal year, ICE had arrested people who were eventually convicted of 320,160 crimes including 49,160 DUI offenses, 47,453 crimes involving “dangerous drugs,” 26,156 assaults, 7,757 burglaries, 6,997 weapons offenses, and 8.065 sex offenses/sexual assaults, 3,581 robberies, and 1,110 kidnappings.

In a highly sophisticated study whose findings were released in 2019, FAIR examined the rate at which criminal illegal aliens were incarcerated in state and local correctional facilities in the 10 U.S. states whose illegal-alien populations were the largest — Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. In aggregate, these 10 states accounted for 65% of the illegal population nationwide. To determine the rate at which illegals in those states were being incarcerated, FAIR analyzed prison data from: (a) the federal government’s State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP); (b) other non-SCAAP figures from the federal government; and (c) the public records of state and local prisons, state corrections reports, and criminal-justice reports.

The FAIR study concluded that: (a) “in all SCAAP-reporting states along the Southern Border, and in SCAAP-reporting interior states that are preferred destinations for unlawful migrants, illegal aliens are incarcerated at a much higher rate than citizens and lawfully-present aliens”; and (b) “SCAAP data indicate that illegal aliens are typically at least three times as likely to be incarcerated [as] citizens and lawfully-present aliens.” In California, the average illegal alien was statistically 231% more likely to be incarcerated than the average legal immigrant. The corresponding figures for the other 9 states showed that illegals were:

  • 60% more likely to be incarcerated than the average legal immigrant in Texas;
  • 78% more likely in Florida;
  • 187% more likely in New York;
  • 440% more likely in New Jersey;
  • 301% more likely in Arizona;
  • 248% more likely in Washington;
  • 161% more likely in Nevada;
  • 267% more likely in Oregon; and
  • 42% more likely in New Mexico

In December 2021, the U.S. Department Of Justice (DOJ) issued a special report titled “Non-U.S. Citizens in the Federal Criminal Justice System, 1998-2018,” which  stated that of the roughly 41,000+ criminal aliens who had been prosecuted in federal courts nationwide in 2018, the vast majority—about 38,000—were in the United States illegally.

The 2021 DOJ report further noted that a significant percentage of all illegal aliens who had been prosecuted in 2018 were repeat offenders: 12.5 percent had at least one prior federal or state criminal conviction, 18.5 percent had two-to-four prior convictions, and over 10 percent had five or more previous convictions. Many of these offenders were guilty of violent crimes like murder, rape, robbery, and kidnapping. Also prevalent were “drug offenses” – defined by the report as the “manufacture, import, export, distribution, and dispensing” of dangerous narcotics like methamphetamine.

Distressing as the foregoing numbers may be, they represent only the barest microcosm of the gargantuan drug problem created by illegal aliens in the United States. As the Heritage Foundation notes: “The vast majority of crimes committed in this country are prosecuted at the local level, not the federal level. These federal numbers are only a fraction of the crimes committed by criminal aliens.”

Federal law authorizes ICE agents to interrogate and arrest suspects about whom they have “reasonable cause to suspect that grounds exist for denial of admissions to the United States,” within 100 miles of the U.S. border on all sides. In Fiscal Year 2019, these agents arrested more than 143,000 people within the province of their authority. These included approximately 74,000 arrests for DUI; 67,000 for drug offenses; 1,900 for homicides; 1,600 for kidnappings; 37,000 for assaults; and 10,000 for sex crimes.

In fiscal year 2020, the number of administrative arrests registered by ICE agents shrank to 103,603 – a reflection of the reduction in border-crossing traffic that resulted from Trump administration policies as well as the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of their arrests, fully 90% of those 103,000+ arrestees already had criminal records consisting of a combined total of more than 374,000 previous convictions or charges – an average of approximately 4 per person.

In October 2020, The Hill stated that according to the Department of Homeland Security’s most recent Alien Incarceration Report, which was dated October 16, fully “94 percent of confirmed aliens” who were imprisoned at the federal level — at Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and United States Marshals Service (USMS) facilities — were “unlawfully present in the United States.” “Additionally,” said The Hill, “70 percent of the 27,494 known or suspected aliens in BOP custody had been convicted of non-immigration-related crimes, as had 39 percent of the 23,580 known or suspected aliens in USMS custody.” But even these alarming figures represented only the tip of the iceberg, for approximately 90 percent of all incarcerated aliens are held at state and local jails and prisons, rather than at federal facilities.

The number of crimes committed by illegal aliens in the U.S. increased dramatically in fiscal year 2021, under the open-borders policies of the Biden administration. Indeed, convictions for homicide and manslaughter rose by 1,900% from 2020 to 2021. The corresponding conviction spikes for other serious offenses were: more than 400% for assault and domestic violence; 347% for DUI; and 453% for illegal possession or trafficking of drugs. All told, the number of “criminal noncitizens” apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials was 341% higher in 2021 than in 2020.

As of early January 2024, at least 617,607 aliens on the non-detained docket of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) had either already been convicted of specific crimes, or were facing pending criminal charges.

A Threat to Innocent Lives and National Security

While the crime statistics cited in this article lay bare the massive toll that illegal immigration has taken on American society, we must bear in mind that every fact-and-figure directly represents a multitude of living, breathing victims whose lives may be permanently ruined, if not ended altogether, by people possessing no legal right to even set foot on American soil.

Consider, for instance, the tragic fate of Kayla Hamilton, a twenty-year-old autistic woman who in July 2022 was attacked by an illegal alien from El Salvador who entered her bedroom, raped her, robbed her of six dollars, and then strangled her to death with an electrical cord. The perpetrator, who was an MS-13 gang member, had first gained a foothold in America two months earlier by crossing the nation’s unprotected southern border, posing as an Unaccompanied Alien Child (UAC), and getting released into the U.S. interior, where he would be free to prey on innocent victims like Miss Hamilton.

Consider also what occurred on December 12, 2023, when 37-year-old Jose Guadalupe Menjivar-Alas — yet another illegal alien from El Salvador — was driving drunk in Broomfield, Colorado, reaching speeds of up to 100 mph in a 40-mph zone, and his vehicle struck that of 46-year-old Melissa Powell, killing her instantly. Moreover, Ms. Powell’s 16-year-old son Riordan, who was a passenger in his mother’s car, died later that same day from injuries he sustained in the crash. Not only had Menjivar-Alas been convicted of drunk driving on four prior occasions, but he also had been deported four times from the United States – only to return illegally each time.

On January 9, 2024, ICE arrested a 31-year-old illegal alien from Haiti named Pierre Lucard Emile, on charges that he had raped a developmentally disabled person in Boston, Massachusetts. Emile had previously been arrested for that same offense in September 2023, only to be released in November when local authorities ignored an ICE detainer and permitted him to roam free with an electronic monitoring tag attached to his ankle.

And on January 30, 2024, Alonzo Pierre Mingo, a 37-year-old alien who previously had been in ICE custody, impersonated a package-delivery man in order to trick his way into a Minneapolis home where he demanded money and then fatally shot three adults in the head while two small children were present.

These few anecdotes, of course, represent just the tiniest sampling of illegal-alien crimes. Moreover, the dangers posed by illegals extend also into the realm of potentially catastrophic terrorist threats. Indeed, according to CBP data, Border Patrol agents in fiscal years 2022-2023 apprehended no fewer than 270 illegal aliens whose names were already on America’s terrorist watchlist. By contrast, a mere 30 such encounters had occurred during the four fiscal years from 2017 through 2021, combined.

Another major concern is the fact that among those entering the United States illegally are massive numbers of people hailing from enemy nations that are openly hostile to America:

  • CBP reports that 37,000 Chinese citizens were apprehended on the northern side of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2023 – fully 50 times more than the corresponding figure from 2021.
  • From January through November of 2023, more than 262,000 Venezuelans likewise entered the U.S. illegally. Many of them, including members of the violent Venezuelan gang known as Tren de Aragua, have embarked upon what Fox News describes as “a wave of violent crimes being carried out across America.” Nor can these barbarians be expelled from the United States, as Venezuela, in February 2024, announced that it would no longer accept the return of any of its own homegrown criminals whom the U.S. might attempt to deport.
  • On October 10, 2023, Fox News reported: “[B]etween October 2021 and October 2023, [Border Patrol] agents encountered 6,386 nationals from Afghanistan … as well as 3,153 from Egypt, 659 from Iran, and 538 from Syria. Agents also encountered 13,624 from Uzbekistan, 30,830 from Turkey, 1,613 from Pakistan, 164 from Lebanon, 185 from Jordan, 139 from Yemen, 123 from Iraq, and 15,594 from Mauritania…. Those numbers do not include encounters by CBP’s Office of Field Operations at ports of entry. It also does not include the numbers who have snuck past agentswithout detection.”

Yet another major threat to which the American people are constantly exposed because of the Biden administration’s decision to obliterate our nation’s southern border, is the scourge of illicit drugs. In 2021, for instance, more than 106,000 Americans nationwide died of drug overdoses, including at least 70,601 from synthetic opioids other than methadone — mainly fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Indeed, fentanyl has now become the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45, and the vast majority of it is smuggled across our country’s unprotected border with Mexico.

It should be noted, however, that the fentanyl crisis in America is even more closely related to Communist China than to Mexico. As bestselling author Peter Schweizer points out: “A lot of the people involved in the fentanyl trade actually have senior positions in the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] or they’re advisers to the CCP government, [and] the links in this chain of fentanyl that is poisoning 100,000 Americans, every link in that chain is a Chinese operation.” This is because the precursors of fentanyl are shipped from China to the Manzanillo seaport in Mexico, which is responsible for handling Pacific Ocean cargo bound for the Mexico City region and is run by a Chinese company with close ties to the government in Beijing. From Manzanillo, the fentanyl precursors are then transported to a town in northern Mexico where, according to Schweizer, “2,000 Chinese nationals essentially operate as chemists.”

Because of the reckless, politically motivated open-borders policies of the Biden administration and the Democrats, America is more vulnerable than ever before to infiltration by agents of violence, destruction, and sabotage. As a Department of Homeland Security official recently told the Daily Caller News Foundation in early 2024: “The border is open. Wide open. Don’t believe the media. Don’t believe the [Biden] White House. Arm yourself, protect your homes and your families, because this joke of an administration isn’t doing anything.”

Additional Resources:

Archive of Serious Crimes Committed by Illegal Aliens
By the Federation for American Immigration Reform

The Truth About Illegal-Alien Criminality
By John Perazzo
March 4, 2024

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