New research shows that second generation immigrants in the U.S. may be more likely to commit crimes than their foreign-born parents.
A recent Pew study found that the crime rate among second generation immigrants is significantly higher than the rate amongst first generation immigrants, even during turbulent teen years.
The survey concluded that 25 percent of second generation 16-year-olds were caught committing a crime within the last year, while only 17 percent of recent immigrants were guilty of criminal activity during the same time period.
As first generation and second generation immigrants reach their mid-twenties, the crime rate gap between the two groups begins to close..
One explanation behind these findings, says the Center for Immigration Studies’ Jessica Vaughan, is that many children of immigrants live in environments that are highly susceptible to crime. This exposure makes second generation Americans more likely to get involved in risky or illegal activities.
“It is 23 percent more likely that a young immigrant or a son of an immigrant is going to join a gang if there is a gang in the neighborhood,” Vaughn told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We must not hesitate to use immigration enforcement to remove those immigrants who are committing crimes,” she continued, because it is “important that we do not allow them to stay here and degrade life within immigrant communities and contribute to the delinquency of others.”
Vaughan also cautioned reading too much into the results of this study.
“These studies never take into consideration that new immigrants who commit crimes are removed from the country and therefore they are not around to be counted in things like this,” she continued. “Criminal immigrants are the first priority for immigration enforcement and are flushed out of the system as soon as they are convicted of a crime… That tends to suppress the numbers of new immigrants who commit crimes within the larger population.”
The study has important implications for U.S. immigration policy.
“We need to be very careful about who we are admitting as immigrants,” she concluded.
Pew cited an expert who claimed the crime statistics were the negative side of assimilation.
“Second generation immigrants appear to be catching up to and resemble the typical native-born (white) population, at least in regard to their offending profile,” wrote Bianca E. Bersani, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
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