A new study says that cities that experienced higher influxes of foreign-born and new immigrant populations also experienced lower rates of homicides and robberies. Using data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and U.S. Census Bureau, Tim Wadsworth, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado, found fascinating results.
Some background: during the 1990s immigration rates reached record levels. Consequently, this led to speculation that increased immigration brought increased crime.
Not so, argues, Wadsworth.
Specifically, Wadsworth concludes that after considering other factors, growth among immigrants was responsible for roughly 9.3 percent of the decline of Homicides and 22.2 percent of the decrease in Robbery rates. He attributes this to what is referred to as the “healthy immigrant thesis,” which points to protective cultural and neighborhood factors often found in immigrant communities and families. Immigrants tend to be healthy, well-adjusted, motivated individuals and immigrant communities often buffer against the strains of poverty, assimilation and crime.
In addition, Wadsworth draws on social disorganization theory. From this view, to the extent that immigrant communities produce protective factors in ethnically diverse neighborhoods, the effects of their presence may spill over to the native population by enhancing overall stability.
My opinion? This study is timely in light of Arizona’s recent anti-immigration legislation. For those who can’t remember, this anti-immigrant legislation gives local police the authority to question individuals they suspect are in the country illegally. In short, this research debunks evidence of a connection between immigration and crime.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.