Myth: Immigrants bring crime to Canada.
Fact 1: Immigrants are less likely to commit crime than native-born Canadians.
Fact 2: Canadian crime rate has consistently reduced with an increased number of immigrants.
It is convenient to lay blame on the other person’s feet. For as long as we can remember, immigrants have been made scapegoats when unwholesome social issues occur. They are accused of committing crimes while natives escape the radar of societal searchlight. Recently, Islamophobia was added to the string of abuses suffered by immigrants. There is an increase in hatred for Muslims (Islamophobia), according to the Angus Reid report published recently. And because Canada is largely a Christian nation, it may be right to say that the minority Muslim population are immigrants hence the renewed negative perception about them.
Read this extensive report in The Walrus, which quotes a 2009 University of Toronto study and validates the theory that immigration decreases crime. It is further confirmed by data from Statistics Canada that suggests the percentage of recent immigrants in various regions of Toronto and Montreal is inversely proportional to all types of violent crime; in the latter case, it concluded that while various socio-economic factors increase crime, “the proportion of recent immigrants lowers the violent crime rate; it acts as a protective factor.”
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) requires a complete criminal background check before admitting any new permanent resident. The screening process is likely to select a law-abiding immigrant population. In addition, immigrants can be ordered to be deported if they are convicted of a serious crime, and such removal orders cannot be appealed under many scenarios. The deportation threat increases the expected cost of committing a crime for immigrants. Indeed, studies find that First Generation immigrants are more law-abiding than comparable Canadian born. At the aggregate geographic level, a large influx of a law-abiding population would dilute the pool of criminals and reduce crime rates. These conflicting factors make it hard to infer the immigrant-crime relationship from theoretical reasoning or from the pre-existing literature. It is also not possible to make a simple generalization from a handful of studies in other countries.
It must be stated that ever since the late 1980s, the selection criteria of Canada’s immigration policy has put more weight on human capital characteristics such as education, work experience, and social language ability, with the hope that newcomers can achieve long-term economic success. Over time, the immigrant population in Canada has become more diversified and better educated. Better educated immigrants are less likely to be involved in criminal activities. Furthermore, in times of social upheaval and economic hardship, immigrants as scapegoats, are accused of bringing with them an element of deviance and criminality: “they upset the social order”, the line goes, “steal our jobs and our property, and ruin our neighborhoods.” This would seem to be one of those times. In Canada, there has been a general, albeit less extreme, scouring toward immigrants, as well. Just recently, on 6th June 2021, Canadians were stunned when a 20-year-old Canadian man ran his vehicle into a Muslim family in London, Ontario, killing four immediately and leaving the 9-year-old boy an orphan. London police say it was a premeditated attack even though there was no known connection between the victims and the attacker.
Visa Place, in an online publication stated: “…multiple studies have shown that immigrants are among the lowest cohort in terms of crimes committed. Among residents aged 12 to 24, First Generation immigrants are the least likely to commit a crime during their time in their new country while native-born and second generation citizens are more likely to do so.” As a result of these findings, Bianca Bersani from the University of Massachusetts stated that foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime. This trend also applies to Canada. Criminology professor at the University of Manitoba Frank Cormier said, “[in] just about every country, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the people who were born before them.” Unfortunately, in just about every country, these facts tend to be ignored in favor of a fictional story that links immigrants with criminal behavior.”
What few have bothered to ask is whether there’s any merit to this belief. There have certainly been signs that they should. In Canada, an overall drop in crime has paralleled the upsurge in non-European immigration since Pierre Trudeau championed multiculturalism in the 1970s. Half of Toronto’s population now consists of those born outside Canada; notably, the city’s crime rate has dropped by 50 percent since 1991, and is significantly lower than that of the country as a whole.
Immigroup, in discussing the topic, references Canada’s Crime Rate (CSI) 1998-2016. In the report which measures true incidence and severity of crime against immigration statistics, it was summarized: “What we clearly can observe is that the Crime Severity Index (and the Violent Crime Severity Index which does not include minor non-violent crimes) have clearly been on a downward trend for most of the period in question. When taken in conjunction with immigration rates into Canada, it seems clear that an increasing number of immigrants to Canada actually results in – or, rather, coincides with – a falling crime rate. The perception that immigrants cause a disproportionate share of crime is hard to square with the data. It may be that some in Canada tend to blame whatever culture or ethnicity a criminal happens to belong to when he or she is an immigrant, while they blame the individual who commits a crime when he or she is a born and bred Canadian.”
The fact is, immigrants are making us all safer.
By The Editorial Board.