Sebastian Roché, Mirta B. Gordon, and Marie-Aude Depuiset
Race and ethnicity are important political issues in France but not important research issues. Even liberals concerned about inequality disagree about the need to study the subject and are reluctant to use racial or ethnic data. Many politicians say they are proud that France ignores matters of race and ethnicity. Whether and to what extent ethnicity is associated with sanctioning for serious crimes by juveniles was investigated in two juvenile courts, in two jurisdictions, over more than 20 years (1984–2005). Logistic regressions were carried out for violent crimes for which juveniles were indicted (“all violent crimes”) and subsequently for two subsets: “nonlethal and nonsexual violence” (acquisitive or not) and “sexual violence” (sexual assaults and rapes). Massive and systematic discrimination based on ethnicity was not found for the overall sample or for the subsamples. The best predictors of severity were the type of crime for which the defendant was indicted and his criminal history. However, there were traces of sentencing discrimination. In one jurisdiction, especially for sexual crimes, race explained a share of sentencing severity.
France has the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Europe and a long immigration tradition. Official data do not recognize race, ethnicity, or religion as fundamental characteristics of people. For a long time crime data ignored foreigners and non-French immigrants as distinct groups. They are significantly overrepresented among criminal suspects in custody and in prison, though this varies by offense and according to status; an important proportion have violated immigration laws and are not a threat to society. Their overrepresentation may result from lack of fixed residence and the possibility they will not turn up if summoned by a judge. Research on this issue is scant. It is unclear whether disparities represent invidious bias or result from socio-economic disadvantages or differences in records of past criminality. Xenophobia among the broad French public, after declining substantially, is on the rise again, in great part due to the recent economic crisis.
Jacob Stowell and Stephanie DiPietro
Despite a substantial increase in scholarly attention to immigration and crime at both individual and aggregate levels, important gaps in knowledge remain. Much work has focused on the criminal behavior of immigrants, and comparatively little on their victimization. Given political controversies about immigration law reform, the dearth of research on immigrants as crime victims is a critical omission. A comprehensive review of the literature shows no association between increases in the size of the foreign-born population and increased risks to public safety. Analyses of the comparative homicide risks for foreign-born people compared with the American population generally, and for immigrant groups of different national origins, for 1994–2004, a period of exponential growth in the foreign-born population, reveal a number of interesting patterns with respect to immigrant homicide victimization patterns, both between groups and over time.
Godfried Engbersen, Arjen Leerkes, and Erik Snel
The development of research on relations among ethnicity, migration, and crime in the Netherlands reflects the ways migration flows and immigration control policies evolved after World War II. In the 1980s and 1990s, research primarily focused on four immigrant groups that are today established minorities: Surinamese, Turks, Moroccans, and Antilleans. Research later expanded to include criminality among asylum seekers, irregular migrants, and labor migrants from Central and Eastern Europe. The effects of migration management on immigrant crime are also the subject of research; focal topics include the effects of open borders as a result of the European Union enlargements (resulting in mobile banditry), of external border control (the growth of human trafficking organizations), and of internal border control (forms of subsistence crime as a consequence of barring irregular migrants from access to conventional means of acquiring income). Dutch research can be categorized into five themes: differential involvement of ethnic groups in criminality, subcultural explanations for criminality, victimization and fear of crime, social organization of human trafficking, and functioning of the criminal justice system.
This article presents an overview of the literature on immigration and crime. Section I discusses a number of considerations that need to be kept in mind when talking about a link between immigration and crime. Section II provides an overview of the research and data examining crimes committed by immigrants, including a historical framework, an overview of the research findings on the individual and the macro level—including a separate section on the criminal involvement of second generation immigrants—and a discussion of undocumented immigrants. Section III presents research and data on crimes committed against immigrants. Particular attention is paid to measurement difficulties in research on immigrant victimization, research findings on immigrant victimization, and the social control of immigrants post-9/11. Section IV assesses comparative and international studies on immigration and crime. Section V concludes with an outline of important areas for future research and provides suggestions for public policy.
Ramiro Martinez and Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco
Recent population changes, public anxieties, and political concerns about foreign-born newcomers have brought studies of immigration and crime to the forefront of criminological theory, policy, and research. A burgeoning body of research examines the effects of immigration on crime and patterned differences in criminality between immigrants and the native-born. A number of influential theoretical frameworks can be drawn upon to formulate predictions that immigrants are likely to commit a disproportionate amount of crime. The specialized literature provides data that supports the opposite conclusions—that immigration does not increase crime and that new immigrants have lower crime rates than native-born residents. More research examining the indirect effects of immigration is needed. However, immigrants rarely commit a disproportionate amount of crime. Politicians’ claims that immigration exacerbates crime problems lack empirically basis.
Unwarranted disparities in criminal justice system treatment and discrimination affect members of disadvantaged minority groups in every country. For some groups, including aboriginal residents of English-speaking countries, African Americans, and Afro-Caribbeans in England, disparities and discrimination are chronic long-term problems. For other groups, disparities and discrimination may, consistent with a long-established multigenerational immigration and crime model, especially affect second- and third-generation members of economic immigrant groups. Asian immigrants typically tend not to have high crime rates or to experience justice system disparities.