The Impact of Illegal Immigration and Border Enforcement on Crime Rates along the U.S.-Mexico Border

Pia Orrenius, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Roberto Coronado, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

In the 1990s, the border led the nation in the decline of property-related crimes, while violent crime rates fell twice as fast in the U.S. as a whole than in the median border county. This paper asks how changes in immigration and border enforcement might have played a role in generating these divergent trends. We find that there is a significant positive correlation between illegal immigration and the incidence of violent crime. This is most likely due to extensive smuggling activity along the border. We also find that while border enforcement has had a significant negative effect on property crime rates, it has had no overall deterrent effect on violent crime.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Applied Demography, Methods, Migration, Labor and Education, Gender, and Race and Ethnicity