Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Immigration and Crime

Posted on: February 6, 2009 at 9:09 a.m.

Recent studies have proven what Los Angeles criminal defense and Los Angeles immigration lawyers have long been saying, that there is no real link between immigration and crime. Lawyers know that throughout the city of Los Angeles the issue of immigration often complicates criminal matters. However, recent studies back up the claim of attorneys, and hopefully that will make an impact on policy.

There is widely-held belief that an influx of immigration brings a corresponding rise in crime as immigrants settle in poorer urban areas. This widely and long held belief is wrong.

A 2008 study published by Harvard University sociologist Robert Sampson looked at the correlation between immigration and crime in several cities around the United States. As an example, between 1995 and 2000, immigration illegal immigration surged while national homicide rates actually declined.

Los Angeles saw an especially high increase in immigration during this five year period and during this same period the overall crime rate actually declined 45%. Sampson believes that part of the reason for this is that new immigrants are strongly motivated to work and get ahead and obviously want to avoid deportation.

Based on his research, Sampson found that first-general immigrants in cities such as Chicago were 45% less likely to commit a violent act than third generation immigrants were. Sampson's work flies in the face of long-standing beliefs that immigrants, illegal immigrants in particular, bring crime with them to the U.S. Any number of stories in the media depict many immigrants as criminals who take away funding, services and jobs from American citizens while flouting local law enforcement to commit multiple crimes. Such prejudicial beliefs very often influence the treatment of immigrants who are accused of crimes, making a conviction for a criminal charge more likely. Such prejudicial beliefs very often influence the treatment of immigrants who are accused of crimes, making a conviction for a criminal charge more likely. Beyond the risk of being deported, immigrants convicted of crimes can and do serve time in prison in the United States and in some cases are deported once their prison time is served anyway. Criminal cases involving immigrants are doubly complicated because they require knowledge of both criminal law and immigration law.

Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin LLP is a criminal defense law firm that knows how intricate criminal cases related to immigrants can be. They frequently confer with immigration law specialists to achieve the best results possible for their clients. If you, or someone you know, has been accused of a crime and has questionable immigration status, call us today at 818-781-1570 or 877-781-1570 (toll free).

Tagged as: immigration consequences


vigrx on December 8, 2009 at 12:44 p.m. wrote:

Democracy... is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike. Quotation of Plato

Elise Podsadecki (UCLA Comm 13 on June 8, 2009 at 2:16 p.m. wrote:

Because there is no existing proven link between immigration and crime, I agree that it may seem like prejudice to believe otherwise and allow this belief to influence the treatment of immigrants who are accused of crimes. However, I have a problem with the statement that this belief has such influence to the extent that it makes a conviction for a criminal charge more likely. If the justice system is in fact just, a proper jury will be objective, setting aside any preexisting bias or prejudice in making their final decision. Shouldn't ALL criminal actions receive criminal charges given sufficient evidence? The duty of the court system is to uphold the law. The fact of the matter is that immigrants who intentionally did not go through the legal process of becoming a U.S. citizen should be prosecuted for that as well. If we do not do this, we are sending the message that it is okay to break some U.S. laws for one's own gain if you are foreign. Deportation is a reasonable punishment, whether or not they serve a prison sentence. They broke the law to get long-term residency to the United States, and if putting them on trial for a criminal act brings this fact to light, so be it.

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