Brittni Brown feels the negative association with immigrants and beliefs of many US citizens in relation to crime rates aren’t founded on solidarity.
The United States has long been considered a melting pot of different cultures and individual personalities. However, for equally as long, there has been some level of animosity associated with those that have recently arrived in the country. Although I am not an immigrant myself, I have witnessed many of these negative feelings.
For instance, throughout the 1800s hundreds of people of Irish descent immigrated to the United States. Many of them faced severe discrimination and were thought of as lazy, angry, drunks that should not allowed to settle although those characteristics were only present in a few and not the vast majority.
Today, US citizens are facing a similar dilemma as the number of new immigrants soars to over 41.3 million in 2013, a record within the country. In fact, international migrants make up approximately 13 percent of the population of the United States. There is no question that the number of immigrants is rising, however, there does appear to be a question as to whether or not these newer individuals are significantly contributing to crime rates within the country.
• Unfair Associations:
Laura Hickman, Ph.D., a professor within Portland State University’s Criminal Justice Department said in an interview,
“There are a lot of claims that are made that they [illegal immigrants] are a particularly high-risk or dangerous population but there isn’t a lot of study or actual data on those kinds of issues.”
The problem is that many US citizens today have a relatively negative association with immigrants in respect to the number of crimes they commit. These associations include allegations that immigrants come to the United States to sell drugs to naturalized citizens or contribute to a growing domestic violence epidemic while they live off of government aid without ever significantly benefiting our economy.
• Surprising Facts:
Sure, there are examples of this that any staunch anti-immigrant political policy can reference, but much like the Irish immigrants in the 19th century, these are negative exceptions to the vast majority of immigrants that come to the United States in an effort to better their lives legally.
In fact, a number of studies have actually shown that the number of crimes committed by first-generation immigrants is distinctively lower than that of the majority of US citizens. A 2008 report from Americas Majority Foundation actually found that high immigration jurisdictions tended to have lower rates of unemployment, individual poverty, and crime than those with lower immigration rates.
A number of studies also found that in the majority of state prison systems there were distinctively fewer inmates of international descent than native born. Further analysis suggested that no matter the education level, native born men were 3.5 percent more likely to go to prison than non-native men.
Furthermore, analysis of crimes committed by second generation immigrants in the US found that although the crime rate was significantly higher than their first generation parents, it was still on par with the average number of crimes committed by native born individuals. Sociologist, Bianca E. Bersani, calls this the dark side of assimilation into the culture of the United States.
Becoming aware of the facts associated with immigrants and crime rates is the first step to addressing issues associated with this type of stereotyping. Immigrants are not any more likely to commit crimes than natural born citizens – in many cases they are less likely. It is not easy to adjust to a new international living situation, let alone when there are false accusations about your purpose in being there.
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