10 Misconceptions About U.S. Immigration

Immigrants Commit More Crimes than U.S. Citizens
Inmates, who have spent most of their lives behind bars, gather to talk about surviving on the outside. Studies show that native-born Americans are jailed at about twice the rate of immigrants, refuting the myth that immigrants commit more crime. RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Listen to the news these days, and you'll quickly learn there are an awful lot of foreigners getting busted for burglary, rape, drunk driving and even murder. Clearly, the people immigrating into the country are bad seeds who like to break the law. So why do we keep letting "these kinds of people" in?

In reality, immigrants are far less likely than U.S. citizens to commit a crime. You can look at this in several ways. First, from 2003 to 2012, crime rates fell sharply across the board: violent crimes fell by 18.7 percent; murder and non-negligent manslaughter by 16.9 percent; and robbery by 20.7 percent, to name just a few [source: Federal Bureau of Investigation]. Yet from 2000-2010, nearly 14 million immigrants entered America — the most popular decade for immigration in American history [source: Camarota].

Further, an analysis of 2000 Census data showed native-born American men ages 18-39 are thrown in the slammer at five times the rate of immigrants: a 3.5 percent incarceration rate for natives versus a 0.7 percent for immigrants. In 2010, the rate was 3.3 percent for natives and 1.6 percent for immigrants [sources: Rumbaut and Ewing, American Immigration Council]

Ironically, when "immigrants" do commit crimes, it's more likely to be second- and third-generation descendants of immigrants who have perhaps picked up criminal habits from native-born Americans [source: Rumbaut and Ewing].