Important research focuses on why thousands of young men and women join youth gangs, but much can be learned from looking at a single life in order to understand ways individuals manage to leave gang life behind them, in this instance by Christian conversion. This life story, told in an effort to decipher its structure and its sources of efficacy, is of Julio, a born-again, ex-gang member who grew up in Los Angeles, California but has since been deported back to Guatemala. His story provides a window into Christianity’s relationship to hemispheric security by exploring the growing world of Central American gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio Dieciocho (18th Street) from the perspective of gang ministry. Julio’s story joins a growing conversation about Central American gangs and the efficacy of Christian conversion.
In 2011, Georgia and Alabama passed laws that criminalized an immigrant presence, by restricting points of contact between undocumented immigrants and state resources and by heightening the consequences of immigrant encounters with law enforcement. Part of a wider devolution of immigration enforcement from the federal to the state level, legislation in both states reflected the South’s historically complex racial politics and created both extreme immigrant exclusions and new coalitions between advocates of immigrant and civil rights. Although southern states have historically been marginal to U.S. immigration debates, in recent years their efforts to discourage immigrant settlement became central to the nation’s overall approach to immigration and laid the groundwork for the dramatic shifts in the politics of immigration seen after the 2012 presidential elections. Legislative actions in both states also set the stage for the prominent role of Protestant and Catholic churches in the immigration debate. These shifts highlight the need for attention from immigration and law scholars to new immigrant destinations, which lack experience with immigration but increasingly shape national debates over the place of immigrants vis-à-vis the “public” served and represented by state governments.
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.
Much negative public and media attention in Germany focuses on Muslim immigrants, particularly those with guest worker backgrounds. A study based on 5 years of ethnographic fieldwork with 55 second-generation male Muslim immigrants in Germany who engaged in drug dealing provides major new insights into how they try to make sense of the negative stereotypes of Muslim immigrants prevalent in German society, into distinctive forms of exclusion they face in the public education system, and into the effects on them of a restrictive and unwelcoming naturalization system. The exclusion the young men face significantly limits their opportunities for social and economic success, shapes their opinions about Germany, and provides them with rationales for explaining and legitimizing their drug dealing activities.
Complicating the Immigration–Crime Nexus: Theorizing the Role of Gender in the Relationship Between Immigration and Crime
Glenn A. Trager and Charis E. Kubrin
Research on the immigration–crime nexus has reached a point where the overall contours of the relationship are fairly well established, but its details remain opaque. In particular, scholars are only just beginning to explore the various social dynamics underlying this relationship. This essay examines the role that gender plays in mediating the relationship between immigration and the criminogenic qualities of a community and identifies four contexts in which gender roles and stereotypes play an important role in shaping community-level social dynamics: (a) public perceptions of immigrant criminality, as well as policy responses to such perceptions; (b) the connection between immigration policy and community crime rates; (c) intimate-partner violence; and (d) social and political activism opposing the exploitation of immigrant workers.
Ryoko Yamamoto and David Johnson
When Japan experienced a “crime crisis” at the turn of the 21st century, crimes by foreign residents became a major target of police. Since then, one main focus of policing has been rainichi (visiting) foreigners who stay in the country on temporary status. Rainichi foreigners comprise a small fraction of Japan’s Penal Code offenders despite the substantial political and law enforcement attention that their activities have drawn. Prosecution and sentencing in Japan do seem to result in some disparities by nationality, but the available data are too limited to arrive at confident conclusions about their nature or magnitude. What is clear is that crime control and immigration control have converged in contemporary Japan, partly as the result of a more general shift towards “punitiveness” in the country’s crime control field (genbatsuka). This convergence is hamstringing efforts to deal with Japan’s deepening demographic crisis.
Katharyne Mitchell and Key MacFarlane
In recent years social scientists have been interested in the growth and transformation of global cities. These metropolises, which function as key command centers in global production networks, manifest many of the social, economic, and political tensions and inequities of neoliberal globalization. Their international appeal as sites of financial freedom and free trade frequently obscures the global city underbelly: practices of labor exploitation, racial discrimination, and migrant deferral. This chapter explores some of these global tensions, showing how they have shaped the strategies and technologies behind urban crime prevention, security, and policing. In particular, the chapter shows how certain populations perceived as risky become treated as pre-criminals: individuals in need of management and control before any criminal behavior has occurred. It is demonstrated further how the production of the pre-criminal can lead to dispossession, delay, and detention as well as to increasing gentrification and violence.
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.
Luca Berardi and Sandra Bucerius
The literature on generational differences in crime and victimization in the United States and Western Europe reveals striking variations in patterns within and across racial and ethnic groups. By the turn of the twentieth century, scholars had already begun to disaggregate offending patterns across immigrant generations. Findings can be disaggregated by crime (e.g., homicide, violent crime, delinquency, and substance abuse) and types of victimization (e.g., nonfatal and fatal). Among the challenges in measuring generational differences in crime among immigrant populations are a shortage of available data that accounts for generational status, definitional issues with key terms such as “immigrant” and “native-born,” and both the need to and difficulties in disaggregating data by race, ethnicity, and types of crime.
Charis E. Kubrin and Glenn A. Trager
Research on the immigration-crime link reveals that immigration to an area is negatively associated with crime rates or not associated with crime at all. This is consistently reported across studies that employ neighborhoods, cities, or metropolitan areas as their units of analysis. It is premature, however, to draw firm conclusions about the immigration-crime relationship as there are key omissions in the literature that may affect the findings to date. In particular, research has largely ignored the role of local community institutions. Studies fail to incorporate measures reflecting the policies and practices of the police, schools and school programs, labor centers, libraries, and other community organizations. Moreover, research has disregarded the larger policy or political contexts within which such local institutions operate. Addressing these omissions would provide further (and necessary) insight into the immigration-crime relationship. The practices of both authoritarian and integrative types of local institutions, shaped to a strong degree by the broader city-level context, importantly affect immigrants and their families, with implications for the immigration-crime nexus.
Italy has shifted from being an emigration to an immigration country. In spite of this, Italian laws have been shaped according to an emergency and punitive logic, as if migration were mainly a public security concern. The selection of legal entrants has been strictly linked to regular workers, ignoring the high demand for foreign workers in the underground economy. Recurrent regularizations or amnesties show the paradox of such a restrictive system. Illegal immigration became a crime only in 2009. In recent decades, the incidence of immigrants among reported, arrested, convicted, and detained people has increased. However, research has shown no clear link between immigration and criminality. The over-representation of immigrants in crime statistics can be viewed as the result of both selective activity of criminal justice agencies and a process of primary and secondary criminalization of immigration.
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.
Cycles of fear over perceived undesirables have fueled a thickening entanglement between immigration and criminal law in the United States. Surging criminalization and prosecution of immigration violations, expanding crime-related bases for exclusion and deportation, and the broadening powers to detain and investigate have reshaped the criminal law’s connections to immigration. Immigration law has increasingly permeated and permuted criminal law and procedure. Conversely, criminal-law consequences have transformed civil immigration law. Courts have pushed back on some of the dangers of fierce popular passions in the criminal immigration context. Ultimately, however, the future of this murky and precarious domain depends on finding a way to bridge fierce divides in the political branches.
Jessica T. Simes and Mary C. Waters
The longstanding popular belief that immigration iscriminogenic for communities in the United States is deeply rooted in an arguably xenophobic political discourse. This empirically unsupported claim has informed many immigration policies throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The politics of immigration and crime has created a stereotype of the criminal immigrant. This notion of immigrant criminality has shaped immigration laws since the Civil Rights Era; the politics of border patrol policy, welfare retrenchment, mass incarceration, immigrant detention, and deportation; and the blurring of civil and criminal immigration statutes. State-level initiatives that criminalize unauthorized immigrants and their families have been designed within a political discourse that synonymizes “immigrant” and “criminal.”
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.
Jennifer L. Hochschild and Colin Brown
Involvement in the criminal justice system is an illuminating vantage point from which to analyze the incorporation (or lack thereof) of immigrants into a host country. There are huge disparities across countries in the proportion of a state’s incarcerated population who are foreign. That proportion ranges from over 60 percent in Switzerland and Greece to one percent in Mexico and China. A number of plausible hypotheses can be developed about associations between particular factors and differences in proportions of immigrant imprisonment.Some expected connectionsdo not appear, including overall incarceration levels and stocks or flows of migrants. Other plausible relationships receive some support, such as the prominence of a market-based economic system, the proportion of Europeans among newcomers to a European country, and jus soli laws of citizenship. Finally, some plausible relationships yield surprises: policies to incorporate immigrants or promote social justice are often associated with high levels of foreign incarceration. Patterns of foreigner incarceration can discomfit both liberals and conservatives. Much more investigation needs to be done into relationships found and relationships expected but not visible.
Traffickers? Terrorists? Smugglers? Immigrants in the United States and International Crime Before World War II
Virtually all historical research on immigrants and crime concerns domestic crime. Questions about immigrants and international (or transnational) crime have been left largely unexplored. Important work on domestic crime appeared from 1880 to 1945, including the efforts of the Dillingham and Wickersham Commission. Other early analyses concerned immigrant involvement in the white slave trade (human trafficking), anarchist violence (terrorism) and drug trafficking. The League of Nations carried out important research using undercover researchers and developing concepts such as the “international underworld.” Private organizations such as the Bureau of Social Hygiene and the International Narcotic Education Association played a vital role as well. Although historical research does not generate the same sorts of policy recommendations as social science research, historical knowledge makes an essential contribution to the understanding of ethnicity, crime, and immigration.