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USCIS Report Shows that DACA Arrest Rate is Below that of Other U.S. Residents

Summary:
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a report showing that 59,786 DACA-recipients, or about 7.8 percent of the 770,628 people who earned DACA, have been arrested since the program’s creation in 2012.  The report does not indicate convictions, only arrests.  Even worse, the report does not provide the comparable arrest rate for other populations, giving the false impression that that is a high number of arrests for such a small population.  However, some data released in the report does allow for a back of the envelope comparison between the DACA-arrest rate and the arrest rate for the non-DACA population.  The per capita arrest rate of DACA recipients is 46 percent below the non-DACA resident population.  Controlling for age, the arrest rate for

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a report showing that 59,786 DACA-recipients, or about 7.8 percent of the 770,628 people who earned DACA, have been arrested since the program’s creation in 2012.  The report does not indicate convictions, only arrests.  Even worse, the report does not provide the comparable arrest rate for other populations, giving the false impression that that is a high number of arrests for such a small population.  However, some data released in the report does allow for a back of the envelope comparison between the DACA-arrest rate and the arrest rate for the non-DACA population.  The per capita arrest rate of DACA recipients is 46 percent below the non-DACA resident population.  Controlling for age, the arrest rate for DACA-kids is 63 percent below that of the non-DACA resident population.

USCIS’ report states that 7.8 percent of DACA recipients were arrested from 2012 through the first part of 2018.  The government does not record the number of people arrested elsewhere so I cannot compare the arrest rate of the population at large with the arrest rate of DACA-recipients.  However, the Bureau of Justice Statistics does record the number of arrests made per year and the USCIS report lists the number of arrests (there is a major difference between the number of arrests and the number of people arrested). 

The 59,789 DACA-recipients were arrested 88,478 times.  During the same time, there were about 67.6 million arrests of people who were not in DACA.  The number of arrests of DACA-recipients over the entire period is equal to about 11.5 percent of the entire population approved for the program.  However, the number of arrests nationwide of non-DACA recipients is equal to about 21.2 percent of the non-DACA resident population.  By this measure, there are about 46 percent fewer arrests per DACA-recipient than among non-DACA recipients.  Subtracting out immigration offenses from the DACA-recipients lowers their arrest rate to 10 percent, less than half of the non-DACA population.

Controlling for age gives an even more wildly disproportionate answer.  DACA recipients are aged 37 and below so that population is more likely to be arrested than others.  Keeping their arrest rate the same at 11.5 percent but adjusting the non-DACA population arrest rate for those aged 37 and younger to 31.4 percent means that non-DACA residents have an arrest rate about 2.7 times as great as the DACA arrest rate. 

There are many different ways to slice and dice these numbers.  Substituting different denominators for the average number of DACA recipients per year to the average U.S. resident population gives a similar arrest ratio.  USCIS points to even better results than our research on DACA criminality.  This might not be what they intended but the USCIS report shows that DACA-recipients are much less likely to be arrested than the rest of the resident U.S. population.   

Alex Nowrasteh
He is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. His popular publications have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, and elsewhere. His academic publications have appeared in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Fletcher Security Review, and Public Choice.

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