The Immigrant-Criminality Paradox: A Macro-Level Analysis of the Relationship Between Immigration and Violent Crime in San Antonio, Texas

Salcido, Christine Galvan
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Conflicting and contradictory idealisms concerning the relationship between immigration and crime in the United States has manifested into a global debate centered around immigration policy and the supposed “threat” associated with an increasing immigrant population (Stephan, Diaz Loving, & Duran, 2000). Thus, the current study intended to answer whether immigration is a predictor of crime occurrence by evaluating the relationship between incidences of violent crime and Mexican-immigrant concentration for the years 2011 and 2015 in San Antonio, Texas (N = 319). It was hypothesized that after controlling for concentrated disadvantage—defined by poverty, education, public assistance utilization, and unemployment—a spurious relationship between Mexican-immigrant concentration and violent crime would be present. Spatial analyses were conducted in addition to hierarchical regression analyses and correlation analyses to determine the relationships between Mexican-Immigrant concentration, violent crime, and concentrated disadvantage. While the spatial analyses initially provided support for traditional criminological theory that posits a positive relationship between immigration and violent crime, an optimized hot-spot analysis showed that changing crime patterns and changes in Mexican-immigrant concentration were generally unrelated. Furthermore, multivariate statistical analyses showed that, once conditional variables were controlled for, Mexican-immigrant concentration was not a significant predictor of violent crime. Overall, it was concluded that the combination of spatial and multivariate statistical techniques provided a more comprehensive evaluation of the immigrant-crime relationship in San Antonio, resulting in findings that suggest violent crime as a consequence of negative socioeconomic conditions rather than immigrant settlement patterns.

This item is available only to currently enrolled UTSA students, faculty or staff.
Criminal Justice