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« Prison Overcrowding, Recidivism & Crime | Main | Cultural Cognition and the Supreme Court »

More Immigrants, Less Crime? 

Like seemingly every other major cultural flashpoint (guns, the death penalty, and even abortion), both sides of the immigration debate have seized on anti-crime arguments.  No one in the mainstream debate disputes that immigrants, on average, are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens, but I doubt that is very convincing to supporters of the new immigration law.  There have also been several high-profile crimes committed by immigrants in Arizona, though I doubt those have swayed opponents of the new law.  I suspect that, as with other debates about the sources of crime, the evidence is culturally loaded enough to make it hard for anyone who feels passionately about the issue to process contrary information.  On the bright side -- and unlike gun control, capital punishment and abortion law -- nearly everyone agrees that immigration reform is needed.  There also used to be a number of Republicans like McCain who campaigned on the issues.  There's no predicting how the issue will play out this round, but I doubt that arguments about crime are unlikely to be decisive.  It does, however, provide a rich field for anyone interested in doing empirical research into the way cultural cognition shapes receptivity to arguments and information about immigration! 

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