Why do people believe that undocumented immigrants are a criminal threat?

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Chart summary of 3 studies examining this question

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QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Do undocumented immigrants commit more crime than native-born Americans?
10 studies
Submitted by: EZabel 110

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SUMMARIES OF STUDIES
Total studies in list: 3
Sorted by publication year
1
Perceived Criminal Threat from Undocumented Immigrants: Antecedents and Consequences for Policy Preferences
"Drawing on the group threat perspective, this paper examines the perception of criminal threat from undocumented immigrants and its relation to both contextual measures of threat and public support for enhanced controls against undocumented immigrants. With data from a national telephone survey of non-Latino adults (N = 1,364), we estimate the predictors of perceived criminal threat as well as the effects of perceived threat and other factors on immigration policy preferences. Results indicate that political ideology and education are the strongest predictors of perceived criminal threat. Perceived criminal threat has the greatest influence on support for more punitive controls and partially mediates the effects of race, education, political ideology, and contextual threat on these control preferences. Future social threat research should consider the inclusion of perceptual threat measures instead of relying solely on contextual indicators of threat. In addition, contextual threat should be explored more often in dynamic, rather than static, terms."
AUTHORS
Marc Gertz
Ted Chiricos
Elizabeth K. Stupi
PUBLISHED
2016 in Justice Quarterly
High quality source
2
UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS AS PERCEIVED CRIMINAL THREAT: A TEST OF THE MINORITY THREAT PERSPECTIVE*
"The link between immigration and crime has garnered considerable attention from researchers. Although the weight of evidence suggests that immigration is not linked to crime, the public consistently views immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, as criminal and thus a threat to social order. However, little attention has been paid to why they are perceived this way. By drawing on the minority threat perspective, this article investigates the effects of objective and perceptual measures of community context on perceived criminal threat from undocumented immigrants. Analyses of data collected from four Southwest states and the U.S. Census show that the perceived size of the undocumented immigrant population, more so than the actual size of the immigrant population and economic conditions, is positively associated with perceptions of undocumented immigrants as a criminal threat. Additional analyses show that objective measures of community context do not affect native respondents’ perceptions of the size of the undocumented immigrant population. The study's findings and their implications for theory, research, and policy are discussed."
AUTHOR
XIA WANG
PUBLISHED
2012 in Criminology
High quality source
3
White Public Opinion toward Undocumented Immigrants: Threat and Interpersonal Environment
"Public opinion toward undocumented immigration is discussed in the popular media yet receives less attention in the social science literature. With data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census, and the General Social Survey, this study examines whites' immigration opinions in 1996 and 2004. The results indicate that in 1996 whites who lived in areas with greater unemployment were more likely to favor government action against undocumented immigrants, while in 2004 whites who lived in areas with more Latino residents were less likely to favor such action. Whites who are embedded in educated networks and networks with racially different contacts are more likely to be sympathetic toward undocumented immigrants. Older networks were associated with restrictionist opinions. The interpersonal environment appears to remain consequential for whites, even if they have no contact with undocumented immigrants. This study finds that opinion formation results from broad demographic and small interpersonal structures."
AUTHOR
Justin Allen Berg
PUBLISHED
2009 in Sociological Perspectives
High quality source







ADDITIONAL STUDIES TO CONSIDER ADDING TO LIST
Total additional studies: 16
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The Criminalization of Immigration: Value Conflicts for the Social Work Profession.
"This article examines the impact of the criminalization of immigration on non-documented immigrants and the profession of social work. To meet its aims, the article explores the new realities for undocumented immigrants within the context of globalization. It then assesses the criminal justice and homeland security responses to undocumented immigrants, also referred to as the criminalization of immigration. It subsequently explores the ethical dilemmas and value discrepancies for social workers that are implicated in some of these responses. Finally, it presents implications for social workers and the social work profession."
AUTHORS
Susanna Jones
Alissa R Ackerman
Nalinin Egi
Rich Furman
Melody Loya
PUBLISHED
2012 in Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

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Governing Immigration Through Crime
"In the United States, immigration is generally seen as a law and order issue. Amidst increasing anti-immigrant sentiment, unauthorized migrants have been cast as lawbreakers. Governing Immigration Through Crime offers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the use of crime and punishment to manage undocumented immigrants. Presenting key readings and cutting-edge scholarship, this volume examines a range of contemporary criminalizing practices: restrictive immigration laws, enhanced border policing, workplace audits, detention and deportation, and increased policing of immigration at the state and local level. Of equal importance, the readings highlight how migrants have managed to actively resist these punitive practices. In bringing together critical theorists of immigration to understand how the current political landscape propagates the view of the "illegal alien" as a threat to social order, this text encourages students and general readers alike to think seriously about the place of undocumented immigrants in American society."
AUTHORS
Jonathan Xavier Inda
Julie A. Dowling
PUBLISHED
2013 in Stanford University Press

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Undocumented immigrants as perceived criminal threat: A test of the minority threat perspective
"The link between immigration and crime has garnered considerable attention from researchers. Although the weight of evidence suggests that immigration is not linked to crime, the public consistently views im- migrants, especially undocumented immigrants, as criminal and thus a threat to social order. However, little attention has been paid to why they are perceived this way. By drawing on the minority threat perspective, this article investigates the effects of objective and perceptual measures of community context on perceived criminal threat from undocumented immigrants. Analyses of data collected from four Southwest states and the U.S. Census show that the perceived size of the undocumented immigrant population, more so than the actual size of the immigrant population and economic conditions, is positively associated with per- ceptions of undocumented immigrants as a criminal threat. Additional analyses show that objective measures of community context do not affect native respondents’ perceptions of the size of the undocumented immigrant population. The study’s findings and their implications for theory, research, and policy are discussed."
AUTHOR
Xia Wang
PUBLISHED
in Criminology

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Undocumented Immigrants, U.S. Citizens, and Convicted Criminals in Arizona
"Using newly released detailed data on all prisoners who entered the Arizona state prison from January 1985 through June 2017, we are able to separate non-U.S. citizens by whether they are illegal or legal residents. Unlike other studies, these data do not rely on self-reporting of criminal backgrounds. Undocumented immigrants are at least 142% more likely to be convicted of a crime than other Arizonans. They also tend to commit more serious crimes and serve 10.5% longer sentences, more likely to be classified as dangerous, and 45% more likely to be gang members than U.S. citizens. Yet, there are several reasons that these numbers are likely to underestimate the share of crime committed by undocumented immigrants. There are dramatic differences between in the criminal histories of convicts who are U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants.

Young convicts are especially likely to be undocumented immigrants. While undocumented immigrants from 15 to 35 years of age make up slightly over two percent of the Arizona population, they make up about eight percent of the prison population. Even after adjusting for the fact that young people commit crime at higher rates, young undocumented immigrants commit crime at twice the rate of young U.S. citizens. These undocumented immigrants also tend to commit more serious crimes.

If undocumented immigrants committed crime nationally as they do in Arizona, in 2016 they would have been responsible for over 1,000 more murders, 5,200 rapes, 8,900 robberies, 25,300 aggravated assaults, and 26,900 burglaries."
PUBLISHED

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Undocumented Immigrants, U.S. Citizens, and Convicted Criminals in Arizona
NGO FUNDING
This organization does not disclose its donors
"Using newly released detailed data on all prisoners who entered the Arizona state prison from January 1985 through June 2017, we are able to separate non-U.S. citizens by whether they are illegal or legal residents. Unlike other studies, these data do not rely on self-reporting of criminal backgrounds. Undocumented immigrants are at least 142% more likely to be convicted of a crime than other Arizonans. They also tend to commit more serious crimes and serve 10.5% longer sentences, more likely to be classified as dangerous, and 45% more likely to be gang members than U.S. citizens. Yet, there are several reasons that these numbers are likely to underestimate the share of crime committed by undocumented immigrants. There are dramatic differences between in the criminal histories of convicts who are U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants.

Young convicts are especially likely to be undocumented immigrants. While undocumented immigrants from 15 to 35 years of age make up slightly over two percent of the Arizona population, they make up about eight percent of the prison population. Even after adjusting for the fact that young people commit crime at higher rates, young undocumented immigrants commit crime at twice the rate of young U.S. citizens. These undocumented immigrants also tend to commit more serious crimes.

If undocumented immigrants committed crime nationally as they do in Arizona, in 2016 they would have been responsible for over 1,000 more murders, 5,200 rapes, 8,900 robberies, 25,300 aggravated assaults, and 26,900 burglaries."
AUTHOR
John R. Lott
PUBLISHED
2018 by Crime Prevention Research Center (NGO)

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Undocumented Immigrants, U.S. Citizens, and Convicted Criminals in Arizona
NGO FUNDING
This organization does not disclose its donors
"Using newly released detailed data on all prisoners who entered the Arizona state prison from January 1985 through June 2017, we are able to separate non-U.S. citizens by whether they are illegal or legal residents. Unlike other studies, these data do not rely on self-reporting of criminal backgrounds. Undocumented immigrants are at least 142% more likely to be convicted of a crime than other Arizonans. They also tend to commit more serious crimes and serve 10.5% longer sentences, more likely to be classified as dangerous, and 45% more likely to be gang members than U.S. citizens. Yet, there are several reasons that these numbers are likely to underestimate the share of crime committed by undocumented immigrants. There are dramatic differences between in the criminal histories of convicts who are U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants.

Young convicts are especially likely to be undocumented immigrants. While undocumented immigrants from 15 to 35 years of age make up slightly over two percent of the Arizona population, they make up about eight percent of the prison population. Even after adjusting for the fact that young people commit crime at higher rates, young undocumented immigrants commit crime at twice the rate of young U.S. citizens. These undocumented immigrants also tend to commit more serious crimes.

If undocumented immigrants committed crime nationally as they do in Arizona, in 2016 they would have been responsible for over 1,000 more murders, 5,200 rapes, 8,900 robberies, 25,300 aggravated assaults, and 26,900 burglaries."
AUTHOR
John R. Lott
PUBLISHED
2018 by Crime Prevention Research Center (NGO)

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When Attitudes Do Not Fit: Discordance of Acculturation Attitudes as an Antecedent of Intergroup Threat
"Recent research has shown that the perspectives of both minorities and majorities should be taken into account to reach a deeper understanding of the acculturation process and its consequences for intergroup relations. The authors report two experiments that investigated the impact of discordant acculturation attitudes on perceived threat. In Study 1 (N=183), Germans were asked for their attitudes toward Turks and Italians. Different levels of concordance of acculturation attitudes were induced by presenting participants with newspaper articles describing the acculturation attitude of the respective out-group and perceived threat was measured. In Study 2 (N=100), two fictitious immigrant groups were used as target groups. Results in both studies showed that discordance of acculturation attitudes leads to higher perceptions of intergroup threat than concordance of acculturation attitudes. Furthermore, both studies supported the assumption that a similar out-group is perceived as less threatening than a dissimilar out-group."
AUTHORS
Annette van Randenborgh
Ursula Piontkowski
Anette Rohmann
PUBLISHED
2008 in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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Between Public Policy and Foreign Policy: U.S. Immigration Law Reform and the Undocumented Migrant
"Why it is that U.S. lawmakers are so fixated on the undocumented migrant as a figure of threat? By looking to congressional immigration law reform politics during the 1980s and 1990s, I argue that a possible answer lies in the way that the undocumented migrant is tied to both public policy and foreign policy issues and spaces. I also suggest how this representation of the undocumented migrant at a public policy/foreign policy crossroads links up with the recent reconfiguration of U.S. immigration-related statecraft in the form of heightened interior immigration enforcement."
AUTHOR
Mathew Coleman
PUBLISHED
in Urban Geography

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Highly regarded source
Do Apprehensions of Undocumented Immigrants Reduce Crime and Create Jobs: Evidence from U.S. Districts, 2000-2015
"We analyze whether the intensity of immigration enforcement,
measured as apprehensions of undocumented immigrants1 per thousand
people, affects local crime rates and the local labor market opportunities
of native workers.2 Using data across seventeen U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) districts over the period 2000-2015, we
take advantage of a sudden surge in the apprehension rate from 2007-
2011, followed by a decline in 2012-2015. The magnitude of the increase
in apprehensions varied significantly across districts, depending on the
intensity of local enforcement, and on the size of the local undocumented
population. We use the variation created by this surge in difference-indifferences analysis. We do not find any evidence that more apprehensions
in a district reduced crime rates, nor do we find evidence that
apprehensions improved employment and wages for less educated natives.
These findings do not support the rhetoric that deportations remove
criminals and/or make more jobs available to natives."
AUTHORS
Annie Laurie Hines
Giovanni Peri
PUBLISHED
2018 in University of California Davis Law Review

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Does Undocumented Immigration Increase Violent Crime?
"Despite substantial public, political, and scholarly attention to the issue of immigration and crime, we know little about the criminological consequences of undocumented immigration. As a result, fundamental questions about whether undocumented immigration increases violent crime remain unanswered. In an attempt to address this gap, we combine newly developed estimates of the unauthorized population with multiple data sources to capture the criminal, socioeconomic, and demographic context of all 50 states and Washington, DC, from 1990 to 2014 to provide the first longitudinal analysis of the macro‐level relationship between undocumented immigration and violence. The results from fixed‐effects regression models reveal that undocumented immigration does not increase violence. Rather, the relationship between undocumented immigration and violent crime is generally negative, although not significant in all specifications. Using supplemental models of victimization data and instrumental variable methods, we find little evidence that these results are due to decreased reporting or selective migration to avoid crime. We consider the theoretical and policy implications of these findings against the backdrop of the dramatic increase in immigration enforcement in recent decades."
AUTHORS
TY MILLER
MICHAEL T. LIGHT
PUBLISHED
2018 in Criminology

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DOES UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRATION INCREASE VIOLENT CRIME?
"Despite substantial public, political, and scholarly attention to the issue of immigration and crime, we know little about the criminological consequences of undocumented immigration. As a result, fundamental questions about whether undocumented immigration increases violent crime remain unanswered. In an attempt to address this gap, we combine newly developed estimates of the unauthorized population with multiple data sources to capture the criminal, socioeconomic, and demographic context of all 50 states and Washington, DC, from 1990 to 2014 to provide the first longitudinal analysis of the macro-level relationship between undocumented immigration and violence. The results from fixed-effects regression models reveal that undocumented immigration does not increase violence. Rather, the relationship between undocumented immigration and violent crime is generally negative, although not significant in all specifications. Using supplemental models of victimization data and instrumental variable methods, we find little evidence that these results are due to decreased reporting or selective migration to avoid crime. We consider the theoretical and policy implications of these findings against the backdrop of the dramatic increase in immigration enforcement in recent decades."
AUTHORS
T Y Miller
Michael T Light
PUBLISHED
2017 in Criminology : an interdisciplinary journal

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How Interior Immigration Enforcement Affects Trust in Law Enforcement
"The day-to-day behaviors of undocumented immigrants are significantly affected when local law enforcement officials do the work of federal immigration enforcement. One such behavior, which has been widely discussed in debates over so-called sanctuary policies, is that undocumented immigrants are less likely to report crimes to the police when local law enforcement officials work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on federal immigration enforcement. However, the mechanism that explains this relationship of decreased trust in law enforcement has not yet been systematically tested. Do undocumented immigrants become less trusting of police officers and sheriffs when local law enforcement officials work with ICE on federal immigration enforcement? To answer this, we embedded an experiment that varied the interior immigration enforcement context in a survey (n = 512) drawn from a probability-based sample of undocumented immigrants. When local law enforcement officials work with ICE on federal immigration enforcement, respondents are statistically significantly less likely to say that they trust that police officers and sheriffs will keep them, their families, and their communities safe; will protect the confidentiality of witnesses to crimes even if they are undocumented; will protect the rights of all people equally, including undocumented immigrants; and will protect undocumented immigrants from abuse or discrimination."
AUTHORS
Elia Peralta
Michelle Gonzalez
Josefina Espino
Carolina Valdivia
S. Deborah Kang
Tom K. Wong
PUBLISHED
2020 in Perspectives on Politics

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Illegality and Criminality: The Differential Opportunity Structure of Undocumented Immigrants
"This chapter focuses on the relationship between illegality and
criminality. The central question is whether (and how) illegality
might be associated with criminality. Are undocumented immigrants
more involved in crime than others or does their undocumented
status in fact cause them to refrain from criminality? The emphasis
of this chapter is on differences between different categories of immigrants
and patterns of involvement in crime and how these patterns
can be explained.

\n\nThe chapter proceeds through five sections. In the
first section we discuss the conceptual framework and focus specifically
on the differential opportunity structures of undocumented
immigrants. We present in the second section a brief outline of the
city of Rotterdam, the location of the case study. The third section
comprises our examination of the relationship between illegality
and criminality using our analysis of official statistics concerning
apprehensions by the police as well as expulsions of undocumented
immigrants. In the fourth section we attempt to explain the empirical
patterns of involvement in crime, while in the concluding section we
discuss some possible perverse effects of the current restrictive migration
regime"
AUTHORS
Joanne van der Leun
Godfried Engbersen
PUBLISHED
1998 in The New Migration in Europe (Book)

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What determines the rejection of immigrants through an integrative model
FUNDERS
Spanish Ministry of Finance and Competitiveness , Spanish Ministry of Finance and Competition
"This study tests different explanations of anti-immigrant attitudes through a model that incorporates aspects of group conflict, social identity and intergroup contact theories. Multigroup structural equation modelling was applied in three surveys, which tracked the same indicators in no similar economic and migratory contexts. In times of economic crisis, the perceived economic threat seems to lead more to discrimination and rejection of immigrants (in line with Group Conflict Theory), while sense of cultural threat is more likely to curb any desire for coexistence with them. Both threats show to be affected by the perceived size of the immigrant population, which increases the feeling of threat in those traditionally favourable to immigration. Other explanatory factors were also corroborated. Increasing contact with immigrants helps to lessen rejection, especially in the case of cultural threat. Effects due to insecurity were less marked and those relating to qualification were contrary to what was hypothesized."
AUTHOR
Ma Ángeles Cea D'Ancona
PUBLISHED
2018 in Social Science Research

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“Reasonable suspicion” about tough immigration legislation: Enforcing laws or ethnocentric exclusion?
"We examined whether support for tough immigration legislation reflects identity-neutral enforcement of law or identity-relevant defense of privilege. Participants read a fabricated news story in which law-enforcement personnel detained a person due to "reasonable suspicion" that he was an undocumented immigrant. We manipulated descriptions of the detainee so that he was either (a) an undocumented immigrant (both studies), (b) a documented immigrant (Study 1), or (c) a U.S. citizen (Study 2) of either Mexican or Canadian origin. Participants in both studies endorsed tougher punishment of an undocumented detainee and rated tough treatment as more fair when the detainee was of Mexican than Canadian origin (regardless of documentation status). Across both studies, the patterns of ethnocentric exclusion-harsher treatment toward Mexican immigrants than Canadian immigrants-were particularly pronounced among participants who defined American identity in terms of assimilation to Anglocentric cultural values (e.g., being able to speak English). Overall, results suggest that people may support tough measures to restrict immigration to defend against symbolic threats-especially threats that cultural "others" pose to Anglocentric understandings of American identity."
AUTHORS
Ludwin E. Molina
Glenn Adams
Sahana Mukherjee
PUBLISHED
2013 in Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology

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Governing Immigration Through Crime
"In the United States, immigration is generally seen as a law and order issue. Amidst increasing anti-immigrant sentiment, unauthorized migrants have been cast as lawbreakers. Governing Immigration Through Crime offers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the use of crime and punishment to manage undocumented immigrants. Presenting key readings and cutting-edge scholarship, this volume examines a range of contemporary criminalizing practices: restrictive immigration laws, enhanced border policing, workplace audits, detention and deportation, and increased policing of immigration at the state and local level. Of equal importance, the readings highlight how migrants have managed to actively resist these punitive practices. In bringing together critical theorists of immigration to understand how the current political landscape propagates the view of the "illegal alien" as a threat to social order, this text encourages students and general readers alike to think seriously about the place of undocumented immigrants in American society."
AUTHORS
Jonathan Inda
Julie Dowling
PUBLISHED
2013 in Stanford Social Sciences

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QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Do undocumented immigrants commit more crime than native-born Americans?
10 studies
Submitted by: EZabel 110

Add question
What additional question do you want someone who searches for "Why do people believe that undocumented immigrants are a criminal threat" to consider?