Criminology Immigration, Crime, and Justice
Ramiro Martinez
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 November 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0054


The study of immigration, crime, and justice broadly involves research on the effects of immigration on crime or the extent of criminal involvement between the foreign born and the native born. Criminologists tend to favor examining the impact of immigration or percent foreign born, apart from other social and economic factors, on violent crime rates including homicide at the community or city level, though some have also looked at differences in involvement between immigrants and native-born individuals. Some social scientists also examine the effects of immigration on justice or public safety by using measures of incarceration as a proxy for criminal involvement. This includes all types of institutionalization including prisons, jails, and halfway houses. However one chooses to examine immigration and crime, the findings rarely support a positive relationship between immigration and crime.

General Overviews

A few texts and edited books on immigration and crime are available. Martinez and Valenzuela 2006 covers a variety of original research using various data sources and can be used as a supplemental book in survey courses in criminology or criminal justice, or as an anchor text in more specialized courses on immigration and crime. For graduate students and researchers new to the topic, Martinez 2002 offers a comprehensive overview and discussion of data strengths and limitations in immigration and violence. Marshall 1997 includes research and theoretical perspectives on crime across Europe and the United States. Although over ten years old, Tonry 1997 remains important for both old and new researchers and provides a strong foundation for students and researchers interested in immigration and crime from a cross-national perspective.

  • Marshall, Ineke Haen, ed. 1997. Minorities, migrants, and crime: Diversity and similarity across Europe and the United States. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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    Comprehensive text suitable for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses.

  • Martinez, Ramiro, Jr. 2002. Latino homicide: Immigration, violence, and community. New York: Routledge.

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    Accessible overview of theory, types of homicide, and detailed research findings. Suitable for undergraduate and graduate courses.

  • Martinez, Ramiro, Jr., and Abel Valenzuela Jr., eds. 2006. Immigration and crime: Race, ethnicity, and violence. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    Overview of original research on immigration and crime from social science perspectives. Suitable for undergraduate and graduate courses.

  • Tonry, Michael, ed. 1997. Crime and justice: A review of research. Vol. 21, Ethnicity, crime, and immigration: Comparative and cross-national perspectives. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    Comprehensive edited volume with a strong international emphasis. Covers research on the development of immigration and crime.

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