Punitive Immigration Policy and the Decline in Public Cooperation with the Police

Carmen Gutierrez, University of Texas at Austin

Many crimes are not reported to the police. Accordingly, data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation from local law enforcement provides only a partial picture of the true volume of crime in society. There are substantive reasons to believe that variation in the reporting of crimes across Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) is a function of variation in sociodemographics characteristics, including the relative size of the immigrant population. To examine whether the likelihood that a crime is reported to the police varies as a function of immigrant concentration and other MSA-level characteristics, we draw upon geographically identified data on victimization incidents from the National Crime Victimization Survey, merged with data from the 2000 U.S. Census. Findings reveal that the reporting of a crime to the police is, in fact, inversely related to the proportion of immigrant residents within an MSA, net of individual characteristics and MSA-level correlates such as disadvantage.

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Presented in Session 60: Undocumented Immigration: Contributions from Theory and Research