Immigrants typically commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans and immigration at the community level has a negative or no effect on violence, says criminologist Ramiro Martinez of Florida International University, writing in The Criminologist. It should be surprising that authors of the controversial new Arizona immigration law apparently believe the opposite, he says.
Some immigration opponents imply that the southwestern border is a dangerous place due to its location and proximity to Mexico, but the empirical evidence raises doubt about that, Martinez says. A recent examination of Texas county-level homicide data demonstrates that Texas border counties have lower levels of homicide than non-border counties and counties with higher levels of immigration concentration had lower homicide levels. Another study in San Diego shows that increases in the size of the foreign-born population are associated with reductions in lethal violence over time, among both Latinos and non-Latino whites.