Refugees Make Cities Safer


To examine this issue, we used refugee resettlement data from the U.S. Department of State’s Worldwide Refugee Processing System to calculate the 10 cities in the US that received the most refugees relative to the size of their population between 2006 and 2015. We then looked at what happened to both their overall crime rates over the same time period using detailed data available from the Federal Bureau of Investigations. This revealed a telling pattern: Rather than crime increasing, nine out of 10 of the communities actually became considerably more safe, both in terms of their levels of violent and property crime. This included places like Southfield, Michigan, a community just outside of Detroit, where violent crime dropped by 77.1 percent. Decatur, Georgia, a community outside Atlanta, experienced a 62.2 percent decline in violent crime.

As the table indicates, there is one city, West Springfield, Massachusetts, that saw an increase in crime between 2006 and 2015. That city and the surrounding area, however, was also impacted by another trend that swept across many parts of America during that time period—a ravaging opioid epidemic.


This study shows that cities where large numbers of refugees were resettled on average see a reduction in violent crimes. In some cases the change is quite dramatic, like in Michigan and Georgia where violent crime dropped by 77 and 62 percent.

So, you really can’t use that excuse any more.



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