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

Date
2017
Authors
Salcido, Christine Galvan
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Abstract

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.

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Department
Criminal Justice