Undocumented Immigrants: Supporting or Threatening Public Safety?

Austin’s Chief of Police, Art Acevedo, has made the following statement about undocumented immigrants: “The vast majority of these people are not criminal aliens, they’re economic aliens. They are not a threat to our public safety.” Chief Acevedo has a point. Over the past 15 years, the United States has experienced the largest wave of immigration, both authorized and undocumented, in our history. During this same period, crime rates have declined. Violent crime has decreased by 34%, and property crimes have fallen by 26%. There are an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., yet crime rates are diminishing. Seen in this light, the Criminal Alien Program (CAP) in the Travis County jail is a misguided policy. Promoted as an initiative to deport dangerous criminals, CAP is a voluntary agreement between local law enforcement agencies and the Department of Homeland Security. CAP is designed to boost collaboration between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement, and moves individuals from incarceration to deportation proceedings. Under CAP, ICE agents visit local jails and check the immigration status of foreign-born inmates. An ICE “detainer” is issued to undocumented immigrants as well as lawful permanent residents convicted of a removable defense as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Immigrants that come into custody under CAP can be deported even if the charges are dismissed. If convicted, immigrants...

Read More