The arm of the Immigration lawyers association (AILA) that issues research useful to the defenders of illegal aliens – the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) – released a report by academics designed to combat the image that illegal aliens are a crime threat. The report  asserts that “Immigrants are Less Likely to be Criminals Than the Native-Born.” But, that is of course a bait and switch tactic.

The report opens by noting the growth of the foreign-born population and the illegal alien population from 1990 to 2013 as well as the drop in the rate of serious crimes over the same period. The two statistics are entirely unrelated, and listing them together is obviously an effort to mislead by suggesting that the increased foreign population influenced a drop in the crime rate.

Public concern is currently focused on the criminal actions of illegal aliens, not legal immigrants. For obvious reasons the crime rate among legal immigrants is low: they are excluded from immigrating if they have prior crimes, they are deportable if they commit crimes here, and the selection process is designed to weed out those who are likely to live in poverty. The same, however, is obviously not true for those who enter the country illegally, and are thus unscreened.

The report’s authors do refer to one foreign-born group that would appear to be illegal aliens – Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men – and states that their rate of imprisonment is lower than that for native-born men. But, this too is misleading because, although there are many of those foreign-born men who are illegal aliens, there are even more who are legal residents and whose demographic characteristics are very different from those who are illegally in the country.

FAIR’s study of the crime threat from illegal aliens is here. That study, using federal data, found that the rate for illegal alien males in the prisoner population was 50 percent higher than the rate for imprisoned American males.

It is important to distinguish between legal immigrants and illegal aliens. The two populations are very different. One should be welcomed and the other excluded. Studies that conflate the characteristics of the two – like the new IPC report – are not just misleading; they do a disservice to legal immigrants.