CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Homicide Surge in Eastern Cities May Be Due to Lack of Immigrants

From Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities in a bloodstained corridor along the East Coast are seeing a surge in killings, and one of the most provocative explanations offered by criminal-justice experts is this: not enough new immigrants.

The theory holds that waves of hardworking, ambitious immigrants reinvigorate desperately poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods and help keep crime down.

It is a theory that runs counter to the widely held notion that immigrants are a source of crime and disorder.

"New York, Los Angeles, they're seeing massive immigration - the transformation, really, of their cities from populations around the world," said Harvard sociologist Robert J. Sampson. "These are people selecting to go into a country to get ahead, so they're likely to be working hard and stay out of trouble."

It is only a partial explanation for the bloodshed over the past few years in a corridor that also includes Newark, N.J., and Boston, but not New York City.

In interviews with The Associated Press, homicide detectives, criminal justice experts and community activists point to a confluence of other possible factors.

Among them: a failure to adopt some of the innovative practices that have reduced violence in bigger cities; the availability of powerful guns; and a shift in emphasis toward preventing terrorism instead of ordinary street crime. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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