Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Amie L. Nielsen

Second Committee Member

Olena Antonaccio

Third Committee Member

Alejandro Portes

Fourth Committee Member

Ramiro Martinez, Jr.


A large number of studies show that immigrant residential concentration is associated with lower crime rates. These findings challenge public opinion which consistently links immigration with higher crime rates and the predictions made by some social scientists regarding the life chances of immigrants in America. The negative association between immigration and crime is often referred to as the immigrant paradox. Recently, immigrant enclave theory has emerged as the key explanation of the immigrant paradox. This theory was originally developed by sociology of immigration scholars. In this dissertation I argue that criminologists have failed to properly integrate immigrant enclave theory into immigration and crime research. My review of the sociology of immigration literature shows that immigrant enclaves emerge in geographical areas with a large number of ethnic businesses and large co-ethnic immigrant populations. I also argue that, in addition to enclaves, criminologists should consider alternative forms of immigrant community organization such as immigrant employment niches, middleman minority communities, and immigrant ghettos. I draw on social capital and related theories to show that these different forms of immigrant community organization should vary in their capacity to control crime. I test key assumptions of my theoretical framework using homicide victimization data from the National Vital Statistics System (2002-2004), homicide and robbery incident data from the Uniform Crime Reports (2002-2004), ethnic business ownership statistics from the Survey of Business Owners (2002), and social and demographic information from the 2000 decennial Census of Population and Housing. I focus on Latino immigration because of its current importance in immigration and crime research and because of the availability of reliable data. The results of my dissertation generally support my theoretical framework. Specifically, I found that violent crime rates vary between different forms of immigrant community organization after controlling for important structural predictors of crime. Furthermore, consistent with the theory, immigrant enclaves have the lowest violent crime rates while immigrant ghettos have the highest rates compared to other types of immigrant communities. In light of these findings, I recommend that future criminological research consider differences between immigrant communities. I also recommend that policy makers recognize the benefits immigration has for crime prevention. I argue that these benefits can be further enhanced by helping immigrants become business owners or gain and maintain employment as salaried workers. The current anti-immigrants policies should be revised and possibly discarded.


Crime; Violence; Immigration; Hispanic; Enclave; Ethnic Economy