WATCH: Center for Immigration Studies debunks claim that illegal aliens commit less crime than Americans

The Cato Institute's report was promoted in publications such the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, and several other mainstream outlets. However, CIS has found Nowrasteh's methodology and conclusion to be incorrect.


The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) on Tuesday revealed that claims made by a think tank and disseminated by mainstream media, asserting that illegal immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans, are false.

In February 2018, the Cato Institute's immigration policy analyst, Alex Nowrasteh, concluded from 2015 Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) data that "the conviction and arrest rates for illegal immigrants were lower than those for native-born Americans."

According to Nowrasteh's report published on Cato's website, the homicide conviction rate for illegal immigrants was 16 percent lower than that of native ​born Americans in Texas, 7.9 percent lower for sex crimes, and 77 percent lower for larceny.

"For all criminal convictions in Texas in 2015, illegal immigrants had a criminal conviction rate 50 percent below that of native born Americans," Nowrasteh wrote, also adding that immigrants that came into the country legally also had a lower criminal conviction rate than native born Americans.

The Cato Institute's report was promoted in publications such the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, and several other mainstream outlets. However, CIS has found Nowrasteh's methodology and conclusion to be incorrect.

The counter-report from CIS, "Misuse of Texas Data Understates Illegal Immigrant Criminality," revealed his mistakes.  

"Nowrasteh's error 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" category and the movement of illegal immigrants out of that category over time,"  the report, by Sean Kennedy, Jason Richwine and Steven A. Camarota says. 

According to the researchers, the state of Texas groups American criminals in the same category as criminals with an unknown immigration status, making the number of illegal alien criminals much higher once that status is figured out. Nowrasteh failed to recognize this in his report.

"... 'native-born' is not a category verified by DPS. Native-born Americans are grouped with yet-to-be-identified immigrants in a catch-all category called 'other/unknown.' The number of unknowns shrinks during incarceration as Texas updates the figures upon identification of an inmate’s immigration status," the CIS report reads.

The report then went on to display that the real numbers show that illegal immigrant homicide convictions were significantly higher than the state rate.

"It is easy to observe how the identification of additional illegal immigrants changes the relative conviction rates over time. For example, in Cato's analysis of 2015 DPS data, the illegal immigrant homicide conviction rate appeared to be 8 percent lower than the state's homicide rate. By the time we requested updated data in 2021, after more illegal immigrants had been identified, the 2015 illegal immigrant homicide conviction rate was 20 percent higher than the state rate."

Cato later published updated studies from Nowrasteh in 2019 using DPS data for 2017, and again in 2021, with DPS data for 2019.  

"By now it should be clear that such recent data will not provide an accurate picture because the state has had too little time to identify illegals who are still categorized as 'other/unknown,'" the CIS report said in reference to the newer studies that concluded with similar claims of illegal aliens commiting less crime than Americans.

Sean Kennedy, the lead researcher on the CIS's report, joined Fox New's Tucker Carlson during his Tuesday night show to announce the findings.

"Well, a number of studies had been done by first the libertarian Cato Institute and then repeated by the Washington Post, The New York Times debunking the notion that illegal immigrants commit any crime, for that matter. And I was just curious, and my lead authors were curious as well, as to what the actual data said," said Kennedy when Carlson asked about how he found the real numbers.

"... we found out that the data was being absolutely misrepresented," he continued. "They claimed that native-born Americans could be compared apples to apples to illegal immigrants, except for Texas doesn't collect data on native born Americans. That's some other category which includes unidentified illegal immigrants."

According to Kennedy, the state of Texas finds significantly more illegal immigrants in its prisons after reviewing the immigration status of criminals who have already been convicted.

"... every year, especially in serious crime categories, Texas keeps finding more illegals in its prisons that weren't identified initially upon arrest. So there's more and more illegals amongst the convicted felons in Texas when Texas goes back and checks on people's immigration status."

"So the Cato study was a lie, and yet, as you said, it was weaponized immediately by the usual wires to shout down anyone who said, 'Well, maybe we shouldn't have open borders,'" Carlson said.

"Absolutely, it was a mischaracterization, because you used to be entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. But now you're entitled to your own facts, but not your own opinions," replied Kennedy, before adding some statistics on illegal aliens in US prisons.

"So, some estimates by the Bureau of Justice Statistics say that one in five prisoners in California is illegal. One in 10 in Oregon, 9 percent in Massachusetts, so we know that there are non-citizens in our prisons. How they got there, why they're still here are questions we need to answer, but the only way we can answer those is if we have the truth out there."


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