It is often asserted that an open border policy would lead to an increase in crime rates. Indeed, immigration restrictionists always make claims like: “if you let more people in, more of them are bound to be criminals.” Similarly, they claimk in a world full of terrorists and extremists, open borders leave us open for an attack. These claims are unfounded and wrong for a few reasons.
First, the threat of terrorism has been overblown by politicians and the government. Sure, we need to make sure terrorism is restrained and controlled (I consider myself a foreign policy hawk, for example), but we need to put terrorism into perspective. Indeed, despite the worst terrorist attack in the history of mankind on 9/11/2001, a war being declared on terror, and two wars–and possibly more in the future–in the Middle East, terrorism has only been responsible for 1.5% of wrongful killings in the 21st century.
Second, terrorists already can enter this country easily anyway. According to the World Bank, between 2011 and 2015, 75 million tourists came to the United States. In other words, when it comes to terrorism and criminals, our borders are already fairly open. If foreigners posed such a threat to the United States by committing crime, terrorism, and other mischief, we would have noticed it by now.
Third, there is no connection between illegal immigration, massive crime waves, and terrorism. Despite 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, with thousands each year entering and exiting the United States on our porous border, very few cases of terrorists crossing the southern border have been recorded. Turning to the issue of crime, the foreign born population in the United States was a mere 7.9% in 1990; in 2010, that figure had risen to 12.9%. The number of unauthorized immigrants rose from around 3 million in 1990 to 11 million in 2010. Despite the dramatic increase of illegal immigration and the percentage of foreign born in this country, violent crime fell by 45% and property crime fell by 42%. So much for that crime wave.
There are legitimate topics of debate when it comes to immigration, especially the impact it has on wages (some research says no effect, or even positive effect; other research finds a negative impact). Crime just isn’t one of them.