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Charts of the week: Immigration and border security

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By Fred Dews

As the standoff in Washington continues between Donald Trump and Congress over funding for a border wall, and the continued shutdown of parts of the federal government, this week’s edition of Charts of the Week looks at immigration- and border security-related graphics from recent Brookings research.

FENCING ALONG THE US-MEXICO BORDER INCREASED DRAMATICALLY AFTER 2006

Elaine Kamarck and Christine Stenglein observed that the Secure Fence Act of 2006 led to a dramatic increase in the amount of fencing along the southwestern border, and has leveled off since around 2009. They noted the “serious problems with building any kind of barriers along the remaining land border.”

Fencing southern border

IMMIGRATION DOES NOT INCREASE US CRIME RATES

According to “A dozen facts about immigration,” a report from The Hamilton Project, “immigrants to the United States are considerably less likely than natives to commit crimes or to be incarcerated.” The authors also wrote that “Evidence suggests that providing legal resident status to unauthorized immigrants causes a reduction in crime.”

Institutionalization Rate by Age and Nativity and Criminal Justice Interactions by nativity

IMMIGRATION RAISES TOTAL US ECONOMIC OUTPUT

Also from the Hamilton Project’s immigration report, researchers noted that “there is broad agreement among researchers and analysts that immigration raises total economic output.” In the chart below, enactment of the RAISE Act—introduced in 2017 by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) and which would have reduced legal immigration—or deporting all unauthorized immigrants would lower real GDP growth, while enactment of a bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on border security and immigration modernization “would increase annual GDP growth by 0.33 percentage points over the next decade.”

Real GDP growth projections for selected immigration scenarios

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