The purpose of this paper is to examine a peer reviewed article discussing the purpose of the article, methods used, the findings and the conclusion of the study. I will then share some of my own personal views on the topic and ways I would suggest future research. The article I selected is Undocumented Immigration, Drug Problems and Driving under the Influence in the United States 1990-2014 by Michael T. Light, PhD, Ty Miller, MS, and Brian C. Kelly, PhD.
This paper will review how undocumented immigration has affected specifically four different problem areas, driving under the influence (DUI) deaths, DUI arrests, drug arrests and drug overdoses that resulted in death.
The data used in this study was collected from 1990 to 2014 from several different resources. The Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reports provided the information for the two types of arrests being examined (DUI and drug related). National Highway Trafﬁc Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System provided the information for the fatalities that resulted from alcohol related accidents. The information regarding deaths related from drug overdoses came from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Underlying Cause of Death database. The authors then chose to pull information from two separate sources, Center for Migration Studies and the Pew Research Center, for their data on undocumented immigration.
A fixed-effects regression model was used to examine the association between undocumented immigrants who are involved with drugs and drunk driving. The study was set up using four separate dependent variables. Each section used two of the variables. First, they chose to use the rate of drug related arrests and the rate of drug related overdoses. The second test they used the same line of information, they used the rate of DUI arrests and the rates accidents resulting in death were the driver was impaired by alcohol. This impairment is defined by having a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. They chose to set up the data this way because it would rule out separate factors and provide a more accurate account of the use of drugs and alcohol. Once the dependent variables were established, they then adjusted for other factors that would potentially skew the data such as the percentage of the population that is older then 25 that did not have a high school degree, the different statics in the labor market (unemployment, types of jobs).
Once all the data was collected and evaluated, it showed that the undocumented immigration did not bear an increase on the rate of the four measured statistics (drug related arrests, drug overdose related deaths, DUI arrests, and DUI fatalities). The results concluded undocumented immigrants were not linked to an increase in drug arrests, drug overdose deaths, DUI arrests DUI fatalities. The research does suggest that undocumented immigrants contribute to the reduction in these metrics. There was a significant decrease in DUI arrests, drug arrests and drug overdose fatalities and the difference in DUI fatalities did not reflect a change. This indicates that the DUI fatalities are not affect by immigrants that enter the United States illegally.
I do not find the results from the study surprising or shocking at all. I feel that immigrants in general, legal or illegal, who are entering the United States are choosing to do so because they are trying to escape poverty or other difficult situations in their home countries. Those that are coming here illegally are truly afraid of being caught and sent back so they try their best to follow all the rules and to live a life unnoticed. I believe that because these immigrants are afraid and living a life in fear that every day could be their last here that they are living more carefully and do not want to risk being arrested. They want to avoid the possibility of getting in trouble and deportation. I believe that people who take advantage of the legal system and the opportunities provided to them are not those who come to the United States but are people who are natural born citizens who feel privileged.
The study itself has many factors that can limit the information that is being provided. They do not have a way of being 100% accurate in the head count for undocumented people. I do feel that because they cannot say with that 100% accuracy that the information while creditable cannot be completely reliable. Another factor that sets limitations is the policing behavior, a few questions that come up for me are as follows, Are the police more concerned with other problems in the community and not paying as close of attention to these aspects? Are they potentially taking brides to keep those arrests “under the table”? Are there certain areas where race plays a bigger role. Are officers more racial motivated to single out who they think looks like an illegal immigrant? I would like to see if the statistics of the race of the arresting officer are affecting the outcome. Are Caucasian officers harsher to undocumented people? Do African American officers offer more of a warning system and leniency?
I would also suggest for further researched to be done involving the type of arrests that are occurring and the amount of arrests that happen. The severity of the drug charges can have a wide range from a small amount to a much larger quantity. Is there a controlled substance that is more likely to be involved in these arrests (marijuana, cocaine, prescription drugs…)? Some states are now legalizing recreational marijuana is this research able to flex to this new law and able to pull out any violations that are no longer valid for the future. Would these new laws hold any bearing on the current outcome?
Another limitation I feel would be if and how many of the arrests are done on immigrants that have ties to cartel and other gang related activities. This I feel could potential throw off data because their sole purpose for being in the United States is to be moving and distributing drugs compared to the immigrants who are here to join the workforce to try and better their lives but may use drugs for recreational use. There would need to be a way to distinguish in the study or even eliminate these gang related types of arrests from the overall results because I feel they do no properly represent the data that is being presented.
I did decide to choose this article because I feel the current situation in the United States has been more hostile towards the immigrants that are choosing to enter the country illegally. Right now, between different media outlets not showing all the facts and people on social media not always believing the correct information, the hatred for illegals is an ever-increasing situation. I feel that this article is a way to show with scientific fact that undocumented immigrants are not harming society in a way that some people are choosing to believe.
I personally have had family members who came here illegally, they did not come here to wreak havoc on a country that was not where they were born. They risked coming here with hope that they could have a better life then what was available for them in their home country. I do not agree that coming here illegally is the correct way, but I think I have more sympathy for people in these types of situations because of my personal history and ties with it. The United States was once meant to be a country that people could come too when they sought out a better life. Seen as a symbol of freedom and a beacon of hope. It is wish for many people to live an American dream, I do still believe that this is a country for everyone.
Overall this study provided solid information that illegal immigrants are not causing an increase in drug arrests, drug overdose fatalities, driving under the influence arrests, and DUI fatalities. In fact, the from the data collected and researched from 1990 to 2014 it can be concluded that they have had a more positive effect on these four different areas during this time that the research pulled from, significantly with drug arrests, drug overdose deaths and DUI arrests. I do believe that this study as previously stated has several different limitations, but it also has many factors that can be used to better provided additional details and expand upon the original results but as it is now it is a great base for understanding the effects that illegal immigrants have had on the United States.