Evidence from early and recent studies does not warrant an assertion about the causal effect of immigration on crime, or excessive criminality among any particular national group. Instead, research findings indicate a limited role of immigration in causing the crime problem. Immigrants are considered self-selected individuals who have low levels of criminal propensity; but high rates of arrest, conviction, and imprisonment among certain immigrant groups in certain locations and times are attributed to the large proportion of young males in these immigrant groups, culture conflicts, adverse social and economic conditions of resettlement locations, and negative effects of acculturation and assimilation.
Thus, immigration resettlement programs that provide support to new immigrants to ease the process of acculturation, retain positive aspects of immigrants’ traditional cultures, and facilitate the integration of immigrants to the mainstream society can reduce crime and delinquency among young immigrants and members of the second generation. Limited research also shows no evidence that illegal immigrants disproportionately contribute to the crime problem in the United States. Most of the non-citizen offenders committed immigration offenses, and only a small proportion of them have crossed the U.S. border without permission.
On the other hand, immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, have a higher risk of victimization and fear of crime but less recourse for the problem than do native-born individuals. An illegal status in particular contributes to the risk of victimization among undocumented immigrants. Because most of the studies on victimization among immigrants tend to focus on homicide, and because crime victimization among illegal immigrants has not been thoroughly studied, more research is needed to provide additional understandings of the nature, extent, and social contexts of victimization experienced by immigrants as well as crime and victimization among illegal immigrants.
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