Immigration, Crime and Justice: Volume 13

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(24 chapters)
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The immigration, crime, and justice nexus holds a special place in the history of criminology. It is one of the oldest, longest running, and ideologically conflicted focal concerns in the discipline. Its lineage reflects the field's record of scholarly innovation in methodology and theory as well as the development of related subjects of special interest, such as victimology and its subfields, domestic violence, human trafficking, hate crime, victim–offender relationships, and other related topics such as community policing and transnational crime and justice.

Purpose – Previously we (Martinez & Lee, 2000) reviewed the empirical literature of the 20th century on the topic of immigration and crime. This chapter discusses developments in this body of scholarship that have occurred in subsequent years.

Methodology – This literature review covers recent empirical research associated with the emerging “immigration revitalization perspective.”

Findings – Recent research has become substantially more sophisticated in terms of analytical methods, including multivariate modeling and statistically grounded mapping techniques. But the conclusion remains largely the same. Contrary to the predictions of classic criminological theories and popular stereotypes, immigration generally does not increase crime and often suppresses it.

Practical implications – Our review of the literature challenges stereotypical views about immigrants and immigration as major causes of crime in the United States. Unfortunately, these erroneous views continue to inform public policies and should be reconsidered in light of empirical data.

Value – This chapter represents the first attempt to synthesize recent empirical work associated with the immigration revitalization perspective. It will be of value to immigration scholars and criminologists as well as general readers interested in the relationship between immigration and crime.

Purpose – Despite the commonly held stereotype that immigration and crime go hand in hand, there are but a few studies that examine the relationship between immigration and crime across macro-social units, including neighborhoods, cities, and metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). Even fewer focus on homicide, particularly homicide disaggregated by motive and circumstance. The current study addresses this shortcoming by examining the relationship between immigration and homicide across large cities in the United States.

Methodology – We extend prior work by disaggregating homicide into different “types” based upon motive and circumstance to determine whether immigration is linked not only to overall homicide rates but also to specific types of lethal violence that some suggest may be higher in places where immigrants are more prevalent.

Findings – Cities with greater immigrant concentration have lower homicide rates. There is a significant and fairly strong positive relationship between immigration and gang-related homicides.

Value – This analysis with disaggregated homicide adds to the findings that immigration is not associated with increased crime. Its finding of a correlation between immigration and gang-related homicides points to the next question that needs to be addressed with appropriate data.

Purpose – This paper updates a review of research on crime among migrants in Switzerland, published in 1997.

Methodology – Review of national survey data and statistics published since 1997.

Findings – Recent statistics as well as surveys (of victimization and self-reported delinquency) show disproportionate levels of offending among migrants. Data from victimization surveys further show that victims do not report offences more often to the police whenever they suspect the offender being a foreign national. Self-report surveys show that delinquent involvement is, particularly for violent offences, higher among migrant youths than among Swiss-born juveniles. According to comparative international survey data, offending among migrant youths from Balkan countries is far more common in Switzerland than among adolescents living in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Implications – The conditions of socialization within the immigration context may be more important than cultural factors.

Value – Combining statistics, victimization surveys and self-report studies at the national level, with survey data from areas where migrants come from.

Purpose – This paper is a critical analysis of the relation between immigration and crime/criminalization in Italy, with particular reference to “second generation” immigrants enrolled in the eighth grade of a sample of junior high schools in Bologna, Italy. The paper investigates whether – after allowing for differences in sex, social class, and other relevant variables – significant differences in self-reported deviance would emerge between second-generation immigrants and Italians. The research draws on three major criminological theories about deviant behavior: social control theory, labeling approach, and culture conflict theory.

Methodology – The study has been conducted as a self-report survey of a sample of 335 students enrolled in the eighth grade of 4 junior high schools in the metropolitan area of Bologna, Italy. Respondents were administered a questionnaire in the classroom, and asked to answer questions focusing on socio-biographical factors, socio-economic conditions, value-orientation, and self-reported deviant behaviors. Regression analysis was conducted on the data, and an interpretative model was developed based on the findings.

Findings – The research offers no evidence of a higher frequency or seriousness of self-reported deviance among young “second-generation” immigrants compared to Italians. The findings suggest that – both for Italian and immigrant respondents – self-reported deviant behaviors appear to be strongly correlated with cultural/generational conflict, the perception of stigma, and weak family bonds.

Value – The paper offers an original contribution to scholarly research about migration and crime/criminalization. More specifically, it supports those criminological studies that deny any role of migration or national origin in the etiology of criminal behaviors.

Purpose – Based upon data from the Italian Ministry of the Interior, this analysis describes trends in immigrant crime, the characteristics of offenders and victims of crime as well as their relationships, and the impact of the Italian policies for controlling illegal immigration.

Methodology – Tabular analysis of government data.

Findings – For many crimes in Italy, the percentage of all persons arrested who were immigrants increased substantially in the past two decades. The increases vary by nationality and probably reflect differences in demographic characteristics of the populations. Patterns of victimization are not what would be expected from the point of view of conflict theory but do strongly support the expectations of routine activities theory. Immigrants are at substantially higher risks of victimization than native Italians for several serious crimes, but their victimization is mostly likely to be done by co-nationals rather than by native Italians. Italian policies to locate and expel illegal immigrants within the country have been less efficient than expected.

Value – This analysis demonstrates that immigration has had a substantial impact on crime in Italy. Although it does not address the question of whether immigrants are more inclined to commit crime than native Italians, it does show that when immigrants are victimized for certain crimes, it is usually done by co-nationals. It shows that the policies for the internal control of illegal immigration are less efficient than expected.

Purpose – This paper summarises what is known about the victimisation of immigrants in Australia.

Methodology – A review of the literature.

Findings – Immigrants in Australia appear to be less victimised than natives. However, this may be an unwillingness of report victimisations and/or not defining certain events as victimisations. Immigrants are more likely than natives to perceive their victimisations as racially motivated and they experience higher levels of fear of crime.

Value – This paper provides a succinct look at the experiences of immigrants based upon the findings of victimisation surveys in Australia.

Purpose – To define, compare, and contrast human smuggling and trafficking, trace the route from recruitment and transportation to arrival at the destination and exploitation; examine some incorrect assumptions about human trafficking.

Methodology – Literature review of academic studies, conference presentations, and reports issued by governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations.

Findings – Instead of being an international phenomenon in which women and children are recruited with false promises of employment and then exploited by male members of highly organized international trafficking networks, research shows that victims – including men – are exploited in their own countries outside of the commercial sexual industry by women and by others operating as individuals or often in loosely organized networks.

Value – This article summarizes what is known about human trafficking including trafficking for human organs and for children used as child soldiers.

Purpose – This chapter outlines the challenges faced by immigrant women who are victimized by domestic violence.

Methodology – Based on interviews conducted with female immigrants to the United States (N=137) who have sought help for domestic violence, and legal advocates and service providers who work with them (N=20).

Findings – This chapter identifies a number of compounding vulnerabilities in the women's practical circumstances as well as the cultural, linguistic, and legal contexts within which they survive.

Value – This chapter offers a recommendation for a coordinated effort among the legislature, immigrant communities, law enforcement, and social service agencies to address the multifaceted barriers standing in the way of battered immigrant women's access to much-needed services and legal protections.

Purpose – To describe and critique the extent and nature of data collection in European Union (EU) Member States on immigrants as victims of crime, and to contextualise this situation with regard to wider debates concerning the EU's ‘migration–crime–security’ nexus that focuses on immigrants as a crime problem. To explain differences in data collection practices between Member States, and to introduce innovative research by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) that sets out to collect comparative EU-wide data on immigrants’ experiences as victims of crime.

Methodology – A range of material from academic and policy sources, together with the author's own work for an EU Agency, is drawn on to inform about the evidence and debates forwarded in this paper.

Findings – There is a serious lack of comprehensive and timely data on immigrants as victims of crime throughout much of the EU. Hence, there is a need for enhanced data collection at Member State and EU levels that can be used to inform policymakers and other stakeholders about the ‘true’ extent of crime against immigrants and how to address it.

Value – This paper addresses the under-researched theme of immigrants as victims of crime in the EU. It also introduces the reader to ‘EU-MIDIS’ – the first comparative EU-wide survey on selected immigrant groups’ experiences as victims of crime, which is undertaken by the EU's FRA.

Purpose – To assess the role of hate crime legislation in protecting immigrants and winning their hearts; and to determine whether hate crime is increasing with immigration and, if not, why.

Methodology – Based on a survey of the literature, a search of news reports in a special interest news clipping service related to immigrants, and the analysis of US National and California hate crime data.

Findings – Immigration does not appear to be associated with increasing hate crime against immigrants in general or Hispanic immigrants in particular in the United States. This may be because immigrants, particularly Hispanic immigrants, tend to live in residentially segregated conditions. However, for people who are probably Middle Eastern–appearing immigrants, the data show a spike in attacks in the years after the September 11 atrocity. The police and prosecutors often decline to arrest and/or to prosecute as hate crimes matters that appear to be hate crimes. This alienates immigrants and makes them believe the opposite of what the proponents of hate legislation would hope. Hate crime legislation does not seem to be to the advantage of immigrants.

Value – This is an empirically based assessment of the value of hate crime legislation for the protection, winning, and integration of immigrants.

Purpose – This chapter examines some of the dilemmas involved in policing immigrant communities.

Methodology – The chapter is based upon the relatively limited research literature on policing immigrant communities, an ongoing review of the contemporary dynamics of this issue in cities and states using the Internet, and original research in Chicago where a large and rapidly growing immigrant Latino community offers examples of most of the observations made by others.

Findings – The chapter first examines some of the barriers limiting the ability of local police to work effectively in heavily immigrant areas. It then describes how these barriers are exacerbated by the presumed presence of significant concentrations of unauthorized migrants as well as legal residents. Demands that local police in the United States become more involved in enforcing immigration laws have become a point of great contention because this involvement runs at cross-purposes with community policing and other strategies to engage more closely with the community.

Research implications – The magnitude of this conflict is illustrated by current debate over “sanctuary cities.” These are communities where local officials have resisted the enforcement priorities of the federal government, and have continued to emphasize the role of the police in serving all residents.

Purpose – This is a comparison of the role of the police in the enforcement of immigration law in the interiors of three nations: Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Methodology – The study builds upon research the authors have already done as well as desk research on recent developments. It uses three dimensions of the problem to focus the report: the hardware, software, and culture of police involvement in this issue.

Findings – In Germany, the local police are responsible for the enforcement of immigration control and have relatively fast and reliable means to identify undocumented immigrants. This is not the case in the United Kingdom and the United States, but there are trends toward more local police involvement, both by institutional cooperation and by the development of better databases and documents for faster identification. These trends are highly controversial in an environment that values community relations and is highly sensitive to racial profiling. However, there are also indications that the differences in typical police work such as traffic controls and crime investigation may not be as pronounced as the differences between the countries would suggest.

Research implications – This study highlights the need for ethnographic work with the police and with unauthorized immigrants to empirically describe and assess the role that the police are playing and its impact on police–community relations.

Practical implications – The German experience supports the value of a comprehensive information system for rapidly determining the immigration status of suspects, but it may not work as expected in the United States and the United Kingdom, where registration and identification obligations apply to foreign citizens only. With the US and UK experiences, one could predict that discriminating identification practices may become more sensitive issues in a Germany with increasing numbers of immigrated citizens.

Purpose – The present study provides information about the pervasiveness of human trafficking in local communities and the challenges law enforcement face identifying and responding to such problems. This chapter describes how often law enforcement agencies find cases of human trafficking and it examines the contextual and organizational factors affecting their ability to identify and respond to such cases.

Methodology – This analysis is based upon data from a national survey of local, state and county law enforcement agencies in the United States regarding human trafficking.

Findings – Law enforcement identification of trafficking cases is relatively rare, though agencies encounter victims more often than federal prosecution statistics suggest. Law enforcement is generally under-prepared to identify and respond to human trafficking, but when agencies train officers develop protocols and designate specialized personnel they are more likely to identify trafficking cases.

Implications – With the proper tools and support, local law enforcement can learn to more successfully identify and respond to human trafficking victimization.

Originality – This is the first national survey of American state and local police regarding their experiences in responding to the problems of human trafficking.

Purpose – Some local governments are asking their police departments to enforce federal immigration law more aggressively. However, there is little research or policy guidance available to assist police in balancing local immigration enforcement with the norms of community-oriented policing.

Methodology – This paper presents results from a national survey of municipal police chiefs.

Findings – The survey responses indicate substantial differences in the way that police departments are approaching unauthorized immigration.

Implications – The highly varied nature of policing practice on this issue is a function of the lack of clear policy guidance and models for local enforcement of immigration law.

Purpose – To demonstrate that countries must implement policies that produce win-win outcomes for countries engaged in highly contentious issues such as return migration. Specifically, while major metropolitan countries have the right to deport “undesirable” nonnationals, their strategies should factor in a concern for the human rights, given that the receiving countries may not have the specialized resources to reintegrate these individuals.

Methodology – Debate on return migration is situated within the context of complex interdependence, and framed within the development–security paradox to demonstrate deductively via an imputed cost–benefit analysis that the security that countries seek through deportation policies may be undermined if creative mechanisms are not incorporated into the policies.

Findings – Because large influxes of returning migrants challenge the capacity of receiving countries to absorb returnees, maintain socioeconomic stability, and engender growth and development, deportation programs should be undertaken against the capacity of receiving countries to seamlessly reintegrate their citizens, many of whom have been culturally, socially, and economically disconnected from the societies in which they were born. Interventions prior to deportation to provide individuals with skills of training, national identification, and orientation to the countries of their birth can produce win-win outcomes for both the sending and receiving countries.

Practical implications – Policy relevance for political leaders and policy makers in both sending and receiving countries.

Value – Original research holding policy relevance for political leaders and policy makers in sending and receiving countries.

Purpose – This is an examination of how border policies become intertwined with patriotic expressions that result in an atmosphere conducive to border vigilantism. We analyze how vigilantes target sources of immigrant employment, demonstrate at public buildings in attempting to put pressure on public officials, and speak and rally at educational institutions in order to disseminate their message.

Methodology – We use content analysis, broadly defined.

Findings – Brutalization theory helps understand how a militarized border policy shapes an environment in which violence becomes an acceptable and appropriate response to undocumented migration.

Value – This chapter provides insights on both recent vigilante activities along the border and also within the interior of the nation.

Purpose – To examine the immigration, crime and justice nexus from the perspective of non-state theorists.

Method – Review and synthesis of the literature.

Findings – The process of criminalization and victimization of immigrants is part of a wider situation of the neo-liberal development that causes destruction of the former social structure and thus of the practices of negotiated and peaceful management of disorder, discomfort and social problems. Fears and uncertainties connected to destruction of the political organization of society are exploited to support a securitarism that fails to create security but excels in reproducing insecurity.

Value – The criminalization and victimization of immigrants is seen from a much broader perspective than normally found, one that links those issues to political economy and global social structures.


Pages 327-337
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Cover of Immigration, Crime and Justice
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Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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