MORE FOREIGNERS, LESS CRIME: EXAMINING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN IMMIGRANT INFLOW AND COUNTY CRIME RATES IN 2000
In 2006, the emergence of several controversial congressional immigration reform plans is triggering heated debate across the nation. Though a growing majority of Americans view immigrants positively, a growing majority also view immigrants as more of a burden than asset to society. One implicit concern underlying the immigration debate is the belief that immigrants or foreigners are more criminal than native-born citizens& but is this the case? Using 1990 and 2000 U.S. Census and F.B.I. Uniform Crime Report data, I analyze the relationship between foreign-born people in the U.S. and crime rates. I examine changes in crime and immigration rates from 1990 to 2000, the nation's immigrant-crime link during 2000, and the immigrant-crime link in counties that experienced an increase in their foreign-born population. I find that counties with higher proportions of foreign-born people, specifically higher proportions of established immigrants, are associated with lower crime rates. More recent immigrants (with less than five years in the U.S.) are found to be associated with higher crime, but it may be that new immigrants' labor market factors (such as unemployment and graduation rates) or their vulnerability to being victimized are driving the association with crime. These findings suggest that policies focused on better integrating new immigrants into the U.S. could help lower crime rates.
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