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By Suzanne Oboler; Palgrave Connect (Online service)

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The presumed link between crime and immigrants from Latin America, and from Mexico specifically, has been shown to be unsubstantiated. As an empirical study of Mexican immigrants revealed, “it is currently the case that immigration and criminal justice policies which appear neutral in relation to Hispanic immigrants, actually bias and distort public perceptions of immigration and crime by inflating Hispanic rates of imprisonment” (Hagan and Palloni 1999, 617). In a comparison of noncitizen immigrants and citizens in state prisons, Hagan and Palloni found that after taking into consideration factors such as age and vulnerability to pretrial detention, noncitizen Latin American immigrants are actually less likely to be involved in crime than citizens.

Walker et al. (2004, 4) support this claim based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2000). 8. Walker et al. (2004, 4) cite evidence provided by Kamasaki (2002) in support for this claim. 9. 6 percent (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2006). Notwithstanding this recent spike in violent crime, violent crime rates today remain well below the rates registered in 1973, 1983, and 1993 (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2006a, 5). 10. “The overall violent crime rate fell 58% from 51 to 21 violent victimizations per 100 persons age 12 or older between 1993 and 2005” (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2006a, 5).

In spite of the facts that belie their portrayals by the media, Latino/a youth and Latino/a immigrants in particular are consistently and repeatedly associated with criminality conduct in the media. 30 JOSÉ LUIS MORÍN Latino/a Youths and Crime Despite a recent spike in violent crime,9 the United States has experienced a precipitous drop in violent crime—down 58 percent from 1993 to 200510 (Catalano 2006, 1). Nonetheless, polls have shown an increase in the fear of crime as well as an upsurge in its media coverage.

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