The Latino Paradox Case Study

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The notion that recent Latino immigrants are harbingers of crime and adverse social behaviors has no basis in truth, and in fact, it has been shown that immigrants may in fact have an opposite effect on neighborhood crime. In his article, Sampson (2008) considers the concept of the “Latino Paradox” – the fact that Hispanic Americans often score higher on a wide range of social indicators than expected (including those related to crime), given their socioeconomic disadvantages – comparing and contrasting it with his research collected on Latino immigrant populations in Chicago. Through a case study in 180 Chicago neighborhoods, Sampson suggested that higher rates of immigration in a neighborhood effectively reduces crime rates. The researchers This argument focuses on the relationship with illegal residents; unauthorized migrants living within the U.S. may not report crimes to the police for fear of deportation, effectively decreasing the recorded rate of crime within high immigrant concentration neighborhoods – creating artificially low crime rates for affected populations. Despite these claims, there is little to no evidence to suggest that these reporting biases exist and have a serious effect on crime rates – chiefly, homicide rates. A second argument is that foreigners – both authorized and unauthorized alike – are apt to be deported in the case of their committing a violent crime, suggesting that the incarceration rates for immigrants may be artificially low as well. The data in Sampson’s research is designed to circumvent these issues by relying on testimony from neighborhood residents – both legal and illegal – rather than police statistics. Sampson concludes that “police arrest biases or undercounts can’t explain the fact that first generation immigrants self-report lower violence than the second generation, which in turn reports less than the third generation.” As many immigrants arriving from Mexico and other Latin American countries are young males with little to no formal education or skills, they fall deftly into classic American stereotypes of criminality – meaning that much of the public baselessly associates Latino immigrant populations with higher levels of criminality and incarceration than the U.S. average. The mass media has wrongfully portrayed Mexican immigrants as foreign desperados; shaping public opinion using generalized case studies rather than aggregate data, the American public would be led to believe that immigrant crime – especially against U.S. citizens – is incredibly high and a dire threat to our national security and way of life. Contrary to these assumptions, first generation Latino populations in fact have significantly lower incarceration rates than all U.S. born ethnicities – including non-Hispanic white. This low incarceration rate holds true even for undocumented Latino populations within the U.S. – a commonly stereotyped group in regard to

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