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Politics

No, Immigrants Aren't To Blame For Higher Crime In California

A young Trump supporter at a rally in Costa Mesa in California on April 28, 2016.
Ben Bergman/KPCC
A young Trump supporter at a rally in Costa Mesa in California on April 28, 2016.

When Donald Trump visited Costa Mesa in Orange County last week, he told the crowd undocumented immigrants are to blame for rising Los Angeles crime rates. But a fact check of his statements shows his blame is misplaced.

"In Los Angeles homicides are up 10.2 percent," Trump said. "Rapes are up 8.6 percent. Aggravated assaults are is up 26.5 percent."

California Counts is a collaboration of KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio to report on the 2016 election. The coverage focuses on major issues and solicits diverse voices on what's important to the future of California.

That's all true. Crime did spike last year. But what Trump leaves out is that for more than a decade, Los Angeles crime rates have been at historic lows.

In 1990, there were more than a thousand murders in Los Angeles. Last year, there were 280.

Trump was on much less solid ground when he went on to say that the crime spike can be blamed on illegal immigration from Mexico.

"We are going to build the wall," Trump said. "Mexico is going to pay for the wall."

UC Berkeley criminologist Franklin Zimring says decades of academic research has refuted a link between illegal immigrants and crime.

"First generation immigrations of all kinds have extremely low crime rates," Zimring said.

There's also this: Research shows that over the past few years, more Mexican nationals living in the U.S. went back to Mexico than came here.