Rethinking Immigration Assumptions

Compared with native-born Americans, immigrants are more likely to start a business, more likely to launch a hugely successful one, more likely to work, and less likely to commit crime. They’re also willing to take jobs many Americans refuse to do. …

Americans who resent having to compete with immigrants for jobs suffer from a double delusion. First, they assume the supply of jobs is fixed and that we would all be better off with a smaller population. That’s flatly wrong. Immigrants are not just employees; they are also employers and consumers. Second, talk of immigrants taking “our” jobs implies some people have prior claims to jobs they have not yet been hired for. The term for that is “entitlement mentality.”

But aren’t immigrants driving up crime rates? Nope. Take Arizona, the Ground Zero of anti-immigration sentiment. As a 2010 piece in The Washington Times noted, “In the past decade, as illegal immigrants were drawn in record numbers by the housing boom, the rate of violent crimes in Phoenix and the entire state fell by more than 20 percent, a steeper drop than in the overall U.S. crime rate.” As Arizona goes, so goes the nation: A 2007 study found that “for every ethnic group, without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants.” The Immigration Policy Center, which produced that report, elsewhere has said that “a century’s worth of research has demonstrated that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes … than the native-born.”