Texas prison
Prison staff and inmates move through the Darrington Unit's main hallway Via The Texas Tribune

SEATTLE - Less than 1,000 of the people convicted of homicide in Texas between 2013 and 2022 were either legal or illegal immigrants according to a Cato Institute study written by Alex Nowrasteh in June of 2024. Over the 10-year period, 472 illegal immigrants, 336 legal immigrants, and 7,109 native-born Americans were convicted of homicide in Texas.

Their estimates indicated that by 2022, there were approximately 2.1 million illegal immigrants residing in Texas, while 3.3 million legal immigrants also lived there. Although it is hard to accurately guess the number of illegal residents, the number was very close to those from the Department of Homeland Security.

The study used Texas as an example as it is an ideal state to study immigrant criminality for its proximity to Mexico, its large illegal immigrant population and its reputation for strictly enforcing its criminal laws. Between October 2020 and January 2024, the Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations reported that 58% of all encounters with illegal immigrants along the Southwest border occurred in Texas.

With Texas bein the only state in the U.S. to keep records of the immigration statuses of those arrested, the research argues that policymakers can learn much by analyzing the state-level-crime data from Texas and use it to infer average rates of illegal and legal immigrant criminality across the United States.

During the 10-year span used by the study, the homicide conviction rate in Texas was 2.2 per 100,000 illegal immigrants, 1.2 per 100,000 legal immigrants and 3.0 per 100,000 native-born Americans. According to the research, illegal immigrants were 26.2% less likely than native-born Americans to be convicted of homicide while legal immigrants were 61.4% less likely. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of homicide convictions has substantially declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This research could help paint a different picture from the one presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has used to heavily criticize President Biden on his reaction to the crisis over the Southern border. Back in February, Trump said that migrants are creating a new type of crime, calling it "BIDEN MIGRANT CRIME." He added that "migrants are trying to beat up our police officers...we are going to have a problem with, I call it Biden migrant crime because you have millions of people came into this place, this country," he said.

Immigration remains as one of the top concerns for voters ahead of the 2024 presidential election and both sides have tried to use it in their favor. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, the number of suspected illegal migrant detentions has decreased in recent weeks thanks to actions such as Biden's executive action that authorized U.S. immigration officials to deport large numbers of migrants without processing their asylum claims.

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