Venezuelan Migration, Crime, and Misperceptions: A Review of Data from Colombia, Peru, and Chile
More than 5 million Venezuelans have left their country, and the majority—more than 4 million—have moved elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean. While some politicians and pundits have claimed the new arrivals are leading to an uptick in crime, few studies conducted in the region have examined whether and what type of relationship exists between immigration and crime.
This issue brief explores these questions by looking at migration and crime data from the three countries with the largest number of Venezuelan migrants: Colombia, Peru, and Chile. To do so, it draws on a mix of national and subnational datasets, some publicly available and others obtained by the authors through requests to government agencies.
Analysis of data from 2019 suggests that, for the most part, Venezuelan migrants commit substantially fewer crimes—and certainly fewer violent crimes—than the native born, relative to their share in the overall population. This signals that public perceptions that immigration is driving up crime rates are misplaced.
In discussing the policy implications of this analysis, the authors point to areas for further research and policy discussion, including the need to pay special attention to border regions, in which migration and crime dynamics often differ from those elsewhere in the country, and the value of actively addressing newcomers’ legal status and labor market integration.
Para leer este informe de políticas en español, haga clic aquí.
5 Conclusions and Implications for Policy