Friday, April 12, 2019

Sociologists like to crow about the immigration-low crime connection, but it undercuts their own theories

For the past few decades, conservatives have been linking illegal immigration to crime. In response, a whole new literature appeared among liberal researchers showing that more immigration results in less crime.  In usual liberal fashion, they treat illegal immigration as the same thing as legal or overall immigration.

But let's not get into that literature -- that's a discussion for another day.  I'm interested in the fact that social scientists have spent a great deal of energy for more than a century concocting excuses for why poor minorities -- immigrants or native-borns -- are so heavily involved in crime.  The list is long: 1) low crime neighborhoods require years of committed investment in institutions charged with socializing youths, and migrant neighborhoods lack to residential stability, resources, and population homogeneity needed to build effective institutions; 2) migrants tend to come in with low human, social, and cultural capital which makes a criminal career more attractive; 3) due to America's xenophobia, migrants are blocked from opportunities to become integrated into mainstream society with its middle-class jobs and middle-class values; 4) the youthful migrant is torn between Old Country traditions of his parents and the lower-class American values of his native-born peers. Such alienation leads to crime.  And the list goes on and on.

But for these sociologists, refuting conservative claims takes priority over consistency. After a century of predicting lots of immigrant crime, now they're scrambling to explain why immigrants are better behaved than the rest of us, and, of course, everyone knows that they always have been better than us. 

After a century of telling us that communities must be slowly built up into an ecosystem of strong institutions that effectively control the behavior of adolescents, now they tell us that people who just crossed the Rio Grande and found some shack to live in instantly create stronger communities than groups who have lived in a neighborhood for generations. 

The kid whose parents come from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador enjoys a rich, healthy culture that actually frowns on crime, unlike mainstream American culture. Being forced into barrios and excluded from white society is a good thing because these Hispanic communities are tight-knit, while mainstream society is atomistic and dog-eat-dog. These researchers are hilarious.  They truly suck at predicting the future, but they are very skilled at concocting explanations after the fact.

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