The Relationships between Permissive and Restrictive State Immigration Laws and Violent Crime Rates in Big Cities
Traditionally a responsibility of the federal government, immigration policymaking has become more common in state legislatures. The majority of new state laws addressing immigration have been restrictive in the sense that they limit immigrants' economic, legal, social or cultural opportunities within their new American communities. Other laws are permissive, which is to say that they enhance those same opportunities. Advocates of restrictive legislation argue that such laws help protect communities by empowering law enforcement and discouraging violent criminals from entering the United States. Opponents of restrictive legislation argue that these laws alienate immigrant communities and thus increase violent crime. Using city and state level panel data from 2005 - 2012, this paper utilizes a fixed effects specification to study the relationship between restrictive and permissive state immigration laws and violent crime rates in big cities. The results suggest that there is no evidence of a relationship between state immigration legislation and violent crime. These findings contradict much of the current literature on the state immigration legislation and violent crime. The results emphasize the need for further research on the causes of immigrant-committed violent crime. The lack of evidence as to the effectiveness of state immigration legislation also calls into question its utility as a short term solution to immigration-related issues.
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