Contrary to popular perceptions that immigration increases crime, the research literature demonstrates that immigration generally serves a protective function, reducing crime. This review takes as its starting point the contradiction between the rhetoric and the reality of immigration and crime in the United States. We begin by exploring the conditions under which immigration reduces crime and those under which it has less or no effect, with particular attention to traditional and new destination sites. We then demonstrate how the moral panic about immigration has contributed to unprecedented levels of new legislation and intensified enforcement practices. These new laws and policies, we suggest, are making immigrants and their communities less safe. We consider some of the ways in which immigrants have become more vulnerable and how that vulnerability is patterned and nuanced. We close by examining recent research in other parts of the world, finding some similarities but also differences in the relationships among immigration, crime, and victimization.


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