This paper will review the historical immigration/crime and the findings reported in both the contemporary micro- and macro-level criminological research on this topic to find out the relationship between crime and immigration. …
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The issue that criminologists focus on is whether immigration is associated with higher than expected increases in levels of criminal deviance. Crime researchers have addressed this question using one of two general approaches. The first is through individual-level analyses that examine immigrant involvement in crime. Such studies provide insight into the question of whether immigrants are involved disproportionately in the commission of criminal acts.
The second approach is less interested in the criminal behavior of individuals, focusing instead on the impacts of immigration, measured at the macro-level, on observed levels of crime. Using data measured at higher levels of aggregation (i.e., neighborhoods, cities, metropolitan areas), this line of scholarship is concerned with the extent to which the presence of an area's foreign-born population affects levels of crime, net of structural and socio-demographic characteristics of an area. Studies falling into this category address the question of whether immigration is related to increased levels of crime.
Historical Studies on Immigration and Crime
The earliest quantitative studies that focused explicitly on the immigrant/crime link began to emerge as rates of immigration peaked in the early decades of the twentieth century. Three separate reports issued during this period represent the earliest research efforts to take seriously the notion that there may be nativity differences in patterns of criminal offending. A 1901 report issued by the Industrial Commission concluded that foreign-born whites were less involved in crime than their native-born counterparts. This conclusion was supported in a report released by the Immigrant Commission a decade later. In 1911 the Immigrant Commission argued that there was no evidence indicating that immigrants contributed disproportionately to increases in crime. The most extensive of the three reports, the "Wickersham Report," was released in 1931 by the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement. The conclusions drawn by the Wickersham Report are similar to those mentioned above that, in general, there was little evidence supporting the notion that foreigners engaged in higher levels of criminal activity than natives (Martinez, 2002; LaFree et al. 2000). Exceptions to this general trend were also noted in the early immigration/crime research. For example, each of the reports mentioned disparities in levels of offending across immigrant generations. Increased involvement in criminal behavior was seen as a consequence of assimilating into American society, particularly for members of the second generation. The Wickersham Report also suggested that immigrants may be more likely to be involved in particular types of crime (i.e., homicide). The conclusions drawn in the early immigration/crime studies have been viewed with suspicion mainly because they were not based on careful empirical analyses. An author of one of the sections of the Wickersham report questioned the results from any criminological research of the period because of the limitations of the data and the lack of methodological sophistication used to analyze
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25 Pages(6250 words)Dissertation
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