Apologists for illegal aliens often assert that illegal aliens are more law abiding than legal U.S. residents. An example is this comment from an assistant sociology professor at the University of Dayton: “The private prison industry has profited immensely from dramatic increases in immigrant detention-increases that have taken place despite research showing immigrants commit less crime in their communities than native-born U.S. residents.”

That assertion is true only if the term “immigrants” is defined to mean only persons who entered the country legally as immigrants. But the assistant professor was making an argument that we should accommodate illegal aliens because they have been exploited, so it is clear from the context that he is using the term “immigrant” to refer to those who came illegally or stayed illegally after a legal entry. The data show that this population commits more – not less – crime than native-born Americans.

Our study here documents that overall illegal and deportable alien population in state and local prisons is on average disproportionately large – fifty percent higher than their share of the overall population – and comparatively larger than the share of native-born prisoners. Those incarcerated aliens are not in prison because of their illegal status or some other immigration violation, because those offenses result in federal detention. FAIR’s study’s does not include the illegal and deportable aliens in federal detention.