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Crime rates among undocumented immigrants are substantially lower than among U.S. citizens

Alison Mitchell’s “Your Turn” column reminded me of that time-tested nugget from Mark Twain: “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.” Statistics are only as good as their context and source.

Mitchell cites that 64% of federal arrests involved non-citizens. While this statistic is accurate, most of these arrests were for non-violent (immigration-related) crimes, according to the Department of Justice. U.S. citizens (95%) continue to make up the largest share of federal arrests for violent crimes.

Additionally, Mitchell states that Chicago has “seen an 11,000% increase in violent crime since the start of the Venezuelan crisis.”

This statistic is mainly provided by FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), an organization that has the proverbial “axe to grind.”

But bias aside, this statistic combines Chicago’s violent crime with the arrival of Venezuelan immigrants. The title of the FAIR website reads: “Sanctuary City Chicago sees an 11,000% increase in arrests of Venezuelans since the border crisis began.”

Six Venezuelans were arrested in 2021-2022; this past year, that figure rose to 686. Of these 686 arrests, only two were considered violent by Chicago police — none of them were homicides.

Interestingly, the number of shootings and murders in Chicago has dropped in 2023, but violence there obviously still remains unacceptably high. There were 673 murders in Chicago in 2023 – none committed by Venezuelan immigrants.

It is certainly true that immigration is a critical issue that both parties must solve at the federal and state levels.

However, offering inaccurate statistics that attempt to portray all immigrants as violent hordes does not help.

I leave you with this final observation from the U.S. Department of Justice: “Undocumented immigrants had substantially lower crime rates than native-born citizens.”

Lori Drummond-Cherniwchan, Rockford

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Letter: Undocumented immigrants are not behind Chicago’s crime wave