Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Immigration and crime have received much popular and political attention in the past decade, and have been a focus of episodic social attention for much of the history of the U.S. Recent policy and legal discourse suggests that the stigmatic link between immigrants and crime has endured, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. This study addresses the relationship between immigration and crime in urban settings, focusing on areal units where immigrants tend to cluster spatially as well as socially. We ask whether immigration creates risks or benefits for neighborhoods in terms of lower crime rates. The question is animated in part by a durable claim in criminology that areas with large immigrant populations are burdened by elevated levels of social disorder and crime. In contrast, more recent theory and research suggests that “immigrant neighborhoods” may simply be differentially organized and function in a manner that reduces the incidence of crime. Accordingly, this research investigates whether immigrants are associated with differences in area crime rates. In addition, we ask whether there are differences in the effects of immigration on neighborhood crime rates by the racial and ethnic makeup of the foreign born populations. Finally, we examine the effects of immigration on patterns of enforcement.


Immigration Law | Law | Law and Race | Law Enforcement and Corrections