Immigration and Crime and the Criminalization of Immigration

The Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies, edited by Steven J. Gold and Stephanie J. Nawyn (2018, Forthcoming)

13 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2018 Last revised: 2 Jul 2018

Rubén G. Rumbaut

University of California - Irvine - Department of Sociology

Katie Dingeman

California State University, Los Angeles - Department of Sociology

Anthony Robles

California State University, Los Angeles - Department of Sociology, Students

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

Historically in the United States, periods of large-scale immigration have been accompanied by perceptions of threat and stereotypes of the feared criminality of immigrants. A century ago major commissions investigated the connection of immigration to crime; each found lower levels of criminal involvement among the foreign-born. The present period echoes that past. Over the past quarter century, alarms have been raised about large-scale immigration, and especially about undocumented immigrants from Latin America. But over the same period, violent crime and property crime rates have been cut in half; the decline in crime has been more pronounced in cities with larger shares of immigrants; and foreign-born young men are much less likely to be incarcerated than natives. The evidence demonstrating lower levels of criminal involvement among immigrants is supported by a growing number of contemporary studies. At the same time the period has been marked by the criminalization of immigration itself, and by the confluence of immigration and criminal law and enforcement apparatuses. A series of critical events succeeded by moral panics influenced the passage of hyper-restrictive laws and a massive injection of institutional resources that has built the “crimmigration” enforcement apparatus into the “formidable machinery” underpinning mass deportation today.

Keywords: crimmigration, immigration, crime, moral panic, perceptions of threat, scapegoating, nativism, detention, deportation, removal, criminalization, undocumented immigrants

Suggested Citation

Rumbaut, Rubén G. and Dingeman, Katie and Robles, Anthony, Immigration and Crime and the Criminalization of Immigration (2018). The Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies, edited by Steven J. Gold and Stephanie J. Nawyn (2018, Forthcoming) . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3189464

Rubén G. Rumbaut (Contact Author)

University of California - Irvine - Department of Sociology ( email )

3151 Social Sciences Plaza A
Irvine, CA 92697-5100
United States

Katie Dingeman

California State University, Los Angeles - Department of Sociology ( email )

CA
United States

Anthony Robles

California State University, Los Angeles - Department of Sociology, Students

CA
United States

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