Does Halting Refugee Resettlement Reduce Crime? Evidence from the United States Refugee Ban

Daniel Masterson | Vasil I. Yasenov

Many countries have reduced refugee admissions in recent years, in part due to fears that refugees and asylum seekers increase crime rates and pose a national security risk. We provide evidence on the effects of refugee resettlement on crime, leveraging a natural experiment in the United States, where an Executive Order by the president in January 2017 halted refugee resettlement. We find that, despite a 65.6% drop in refugee resettlement, there is no discernible effect on county-level crime rates. These null effects are consistent across all types of crime. Overall, the results suggest that crime rates would have been similar had refugee arrivals continued at previous levels.