Does more immigration mean more crime in the United States? National implications, local findings and some surprising results

Dr. Ramiro Martínez, Northeastern University

One of American society’s long simmering debates focuses on the immigration and violent crime connection.  This classic debate is reexamined using community-level homicides in Miami, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas, in the 1970s through  2000s, respectively.  This talk starts with these two U.S. border cities because they mirror the immigration influx, local Latino growth, and homicide decline seen throughout the nation since 1970. These findings are also replicated in an analysis of the immigration and crime influx across the nation using U.S. counties in 2000 and 2010.  

Before discussing the contours of the immigration and crime literature in this talk I discuss the recent crime drop. Why? Most Americans believe the “crime problem” is getting worse.  Perceptions of crime at the national level, influenced by political rhetoric, does not fit the reality that homicides are dropping.  Why the decline in homicides? Many commentators contend several reasons exist for that decline including more incarceration, stronger economy, vanishing open air drug markets, and aggressive policing strategies, among many others. Yet, the impact of immigration is rarely publicly discussed as a reason for the decline in homicides.  I explore that link and outline the findings, at both the national and local levels.

 In sum, results from comparative cases, different time points, homicide motivations, and individual/community/national levels—and even controlling for Latino regional concentration—are reported. The findings were clear and unequivocal: more immigrants did not mean more homicide, and that outcome held across time and place.

About the speaker

Ramiro Martínez, Jr. is a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Professor Martinez, is a quantitative criminologist / sociologist of deviance. Within that broad arena, his work contributes to violent crime research. His core research agenda asks how does violence vary across ecological settings, and, does violent crime and violent deaths vary across racial/ethnic and immigrant groups?

Dr. Martinez, who currently chairs the Section of Crime, Law and Deviance of the American Sociological Association, has received several honors and awards. In 2011, he was a recipient of American Society of Criminology DPCC’s Lifetime Achievement for outstanding scholarship in the area of race, crime, and justice. In 2007 he was a recipient of American Society of Criminology DPCC’s Coramae Richey Mann Award for outstanding scholarship in the area of race, crime, and justice. He previously received the American Sociological Association Latinao Section Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research and a W.E.B. DuBois Fellowship from the National Institute of Justice.

Date: 23 November 2018

Time: 11:00 - 12:00