This article appeared in the August 28, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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What Mollie Tibbetts's death tells us about immigrant crime

Charlie Neibergall/AP
A ribbon for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on a light post in Brooklyn, Iowa. The funeral for Tibbetts was held Sunday, Aug. 26, in Brooklyn, a city of 1,500 in central Iowa where she grew up.

You’re probably going to hear a lot about Mollie Tibbetts in the run-up to the midterm elections. She was the missing Iowa college student who was found last week, murdered. Police have charged an unauthorized immigrant from Mexico.

Her death has reignited the debate over crime and immigration. But should it? Despite what you may have heard, immigrants who come to the United States illegally don’t increase the crime rate in the country.

A recent study of crimes in Texas by the libertarian Cato Institute shows that in 2015, there were 50 percent fewer criminal convictions of unauthorized immigrants than of native-born Americans. As a proportion of the population, there were fewer murderers or rapists among immigrants.

You might say, well, that’s just Texas. If you looked at other states you’d find unauthorized immigrants mean higher crime rates.

Actually, no.

A study published in March in the journal Criminology found that states with more unauthorized immigrants (1990-2014) tended to have a lower crime rate. In fact, as that population rose, violent crime went down.

Those facts may be of little comfort to the Tibbetts family.

But perhaps it’s why Ms. Tibbetts's dad resisted the temptation to see all immigrants as murderers. Instead, Rob Tibbetts said in his eulogy on Sunday, "The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans,” the Des Moines Register reported. Then he added with a smile, "As far as I'm concerned, they're Iowans with better food."

Now to our five selected stories, including paths to progress for workers in America, refugees from Nicaragua, and job hunters in Ohio.

This article appeared in the August 28, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/28 edition
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