Immigrants are often held responsible for increased crime rates, or crime in general. As these accusations occur in every country one has to wonder whether people immigrate because they are criminal, yet immigration authorities typically vet criminal records. So are immigrants really more criminally inclined than native populations? A recent paper should help shed some light.
Brian Bell, Stephen Machin and Francesco Fasani look at two recent immigration waves to the United Kingdom and find no difference between natives and immigrants. Specifically, they look at the surge of asylum seekers in the 1990s and the large influx of Eastern Europeans in 2004. They key is that immigrants have different demographic and labor market characteristics than natives. Once you control for this, there is no discernible difference. This means also that providing better work perspectives to immigrants reduces both their crime and victimization rates, as it is the case for locals. In particular, forbidding asylum seekers to hold a job seems counterproductive.