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Poll: By 2-to-1, Suburban Cook Voters Reject Linking Immigrants to Crime

By David Ornsby - View Original Article at ChicagoTribune.com

(Chicago, IL) - Half of suburban Cook County voters dismiss claims by some political leaders that immigrants are criminal threats to their communities, according to a new survey.

The poll of 502 likely voters conducted between October 9-10 by Chicago-based Illinois Public Opinion, Inc. found that 50.6% of suburban Cook voters "are not worried that immigrants may commit crimes" in their "community or surrounding communities." Meanwhile, the survey said only 27.3% "are worried" and 22.1% were undecided.

Some political leaders nationally and in Illinois have asserted that immigrants are a source of crime in towns and cities across the country.

"Clearly, suburban Cook County voters reject immigrant fear mongering, pushed by some elected leaders, because they see them not as threats, but as good neighbors," said suburban Cook County municipal attorney Michael Del Galdo, managing partner of the Del Galdo Law Group, who serves as the legal counsel for multiple suburban communities, such as the Town of Cicero. "Most of the towns that I represent in suburban Cook County are thriving immigrant melting pots where shared community interests, such as good schools, safe streets, and clean water bind mixed ethnic communities together."

In fact, a series studies highlighted in the August 22, 2018 issue of Pacific Standard, debunk the theories linking immigrants to increased crime:

* A 2018 study published in Criminology analyzed crime rates from all 50 states from 1990 to 2014 and found that the relationship between immigration and crime is "generally negative." "Increases in the undocumented immigrant population within states are associated with significant decreases in the prevalence of violence," study author Michael Light wrote.

* A 2015 study found that, in the same period, the immigration population more than tripled in the United States; from 1990 to 2013, the violent crime rate decreased by 48 percent, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data.

* A 2018 study from the Cato Institute found that immigrants have far lower arrest and criminal conviction rates than native-born Americans-a pattern that study author Alex Nowrasteh says is true for all crimes. Homicide conviction rates were 16 percent lower for immigrants than for native-born Americans in Texas in 2015, and criminal convictions overall were 50 percent lower for immigrants.

Meanwhile, suburban Cook County voters also have an upbeat view of their towns.

The survey says that 72.3% of voters rate the "quality of life" in their local community as either "good" or "excellent" while just 23.4% say it is either "fair" or "poor."

The automated poll had a +/- 5.0% margin of error.

davidormsby@davidormsby.com