Flawed Studies Misuse Texas Crime Data Resulting in False Claims about Illegal Alien Crime

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 76

By Mark Krikorian and Jason Richwine on October 20, 2022

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Academics and activists have been misusing data from the Texas Department of Public Safety to claim that illegal immigrants have lower rates of crime than the native-born or legal immigrants. On this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Jason Richwine, and co-author of the recent report, Misuse of Texas Data Understates Illegal Immigrant Criminality, discusses the flawed research, which has been relied upon by activists, media, and even litigators to claim lower rates of crime among illegal immigrants and to support unlimited illegal immigration.

The Center’s report reveals that while strong claims about the overall criminality of illegal immigrants are not possible with current data, prior research has understated it substantially by ignoring or downplaying that the immigration status of many arrestees and convicts is unknown at the time of arrest, resulting in an undercount in the data. Over time, illegal immigrants move from the “other/unknown” category to the “illegal” category as their status is determined. However, in cases where they are in custody for only a short period of time, illegal immigrants may not be identified at all.

Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director and host of Parsing Immigration Policy, says that the Center usually doesn’t weigh in on the crime issue because it’s tangential to immigration policy. Whether illegal immigrants have higher crime rates than the native-born or legal immigrants doesn’t matter – if one crime is committed by an illegal alien, that is one crime too many because that person shouldn’t have even been in the country, making the crime preventable.

Richwine points out that he is not using different methods of statistical analysis from the flawed reports, saying, “It’s not the statistics, it’s understanding where the data come from and what their limitations are. That’s what separates our report from the ones that really got this wrong because they didn’t appreciate that more illegals were going to be added over time.”


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Jason Richwine is a Resident Scholar at the Center for Immigration Studies.


Misuse of Texas Data Understates Illegal Immigrant Criminality


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".