After Somali Immigrants arrived in Minneapolis, did Crime change differently than in other Minnesota Cities? (Fact Check)
There are some people on the internet, writing for websites with names like “Stormfront” and “Stuff Black People Don’t Lie,” who make a cottage industry out of posting a link every time a Somali immigrant is charged with a crime and blowing that single incident into a blanket condemnation of immigrants, Somalis, Africans and people with dark brown skin. Minneapolis, Minnesota is one city that has welcomed a large number of Somali refugees seeking a new life. The race-baiters write about Somali immigrants to Minneapolis in derogatory terms with dire accusations of a crime wave:
- “None of these Somalis in any city of the United States should be in the country, if the government was actually concerned with creating a strong future for the nation’s actual citizens. It is not. Minneapolis once was a city with one of the lowest crime rates in America and the highest standard of living; social capital (the necessary building-block for building strong communities) was at a premium. Enter the Somali refugees and the importation of crime that the city needed if it was to compete with other vibrant cities in the diversity lottery.”
- “Violent crimes against Americans are sure to rise as the number of Somalis increase…. As the number of Somalis increase the crime rate will increase and the city and state will be bankrupted from all the foreign welfare freeloaders and welfare cheats.”
- “After the Somalis arrived in Minneapolis, violence in the city intensified and the crime rate exploded.”
As I showed in a post last November, a simple check of the violent and property crime rates from 1992 (the year before Somalis began arriving in Minneapolis) to now show that both violent and property crime rates have declined, not gone up, in the city. This trend is directly at odds with the claims made above.
A more subtle if still-racist point is being made by some correspondents: that surely the crime rate has been falling everywhere in the United States lately, and that surely the places with more Somali immigrants have crime rates that are decreasing along with everywhere else, but decreasing at a smaller rate because those nasty, criminal Somalis must be counteracting the general curve.
Let’s test this claim. I’ve gone to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for its latest 5-year counts of people of Somali descent in of the 905 incorporated cities of the state of Minnesota. Results confirm that the city of Minneapolis has the highest number of people of Somali descent living there (12,702) and the highest percent of residents who are of Somali descent (3.26%). I’ve also gone to the Uniform Crime Reports data tool supplied by the FBI and looked up the violent crime rate and property crime rate for every city in Minnesota with a population of 50,000 of more (crime rate is measured as number of crimes per 100,000 population).
The combined result is shown in the tables below. Unfortunately, the violent crime can only be reported through 2004 because after 2004 many Minnesota cities began reporting rape data in a way that is inconsistent with the Uniform Crime Reports; the FBI has therefore excluded post-2004 years from UCR reports for Minnesota cities. Still, data that is available is fairly clear:
|City||1992 violent crime rate||2004 violent crime rate||1992-2004 Change||% Change in Rate||% Residents of Somali descent||Population|
For property crime, the full 1992-2012 change is available:
|City||1992 property crime rate||2012 property crime rate||1992-2012 Change||% Change in Rate||% Residents of Somali descent||Population|
As you can see, in terms of violent crime and property crime the city of Minneapolis is actually fairly typical. Some cities actually saw a rise in their violent crime rates — but not Minneapolis. Only a few, not most, of Minnesota cities experienced sharper declines in property or violent crime rates than Minneapolis. Minneapolis ends up looking pretty good in comparison to many of its neighbors. Comparing Minneapolis to its sister cities in Minnesota, it does not appear that Minnesota has had a comparatively shallower decline in its crime rate. The arrival of Somalis did not have the criminalizing effect on the city that critics of Somali immigration claim.
As the tables above reveal, the presence of residents of Somali descent is not limited to Minneapolis. Is the share of a city’s residents who are Somali related to the crime rate? Scatterplots graphing % Somali in a Minnesota city against % change in crime rate for the city doesn’t show support for the positive relationship suggested by anti-Somali critics:
And in case you’re wondering, multivariate regression analysis, whether controlling for city size or not, fails to show a statistically significant of effect of a city’s share of Somali immigrants on its change in the crime rate since Somali immigrants started coming to Minnesota.
In short, it’s simply not true that Minneapolis and other cities with significant Somali populations experienced more crime (or a lower drop in crime) after Somali immigrants began to arrive. It’s just not true.