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Latino Crime Evolvement in the US

Hispanic Immigrants: As Bad As Some Want Them to Be?

When he announced his candidacy for the American presidency, Donald Trump delivered remarks that have echoed across Mexico. “They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They’re rapists,” Trump said.

While the rest of the candidates are finding their footing as they try to court the Latino vote, Trump managed to galvanize the disparate populations of Mexico, both social and political. While the dustup over his comments may have hurt some of Trump’s business relationships, that don’t appear to have bruised him politically. They may even have helped. Trump has seen a bounce in the surveys, but whatever his chances of getting the White House, Trump seems to have tapped into a vein of resentment in America. It is a traditional narrative that those who cross the border are doing so with nefarious intentions, the reality for most Latinos is more complicated.

Donald Trump has remained firm in his allegations that illegal immigrants from Mexico are bringing runaway crime to America. Trump’s claim that there are “hundreds of thousands” of illegal immigrants in US prisons isn’t supported by the facts. Recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics say there are approximately 90,000 noncitizens in prison as of 2013. Even that figure doesn’t say much. The noncitizen group bundles both legal and illegal immigrants. In any case, there are not “hundreds of thousands” of illegal immigrants locked up in America’s prisons.

A 2011 GAO report shows that there were only 90,000 persons of illegal, or unknown, immigration status. Local jails reported about 204,000 for the same period.

The fact that so many immigrants are detained for immigration violations as opposed to committing a violent crime makes incarceration stats hard to review. The GAO study shows that immigration violations were the most frequent offense leading to detention – trailed in the far distance by drug and traffic violations.

Another good report of the latest research is in the May 2014 issue of Criminology and Public Policy. The report shows that there is a consensus among scholars that undocumented immigrants are not more likely to commit crimes than American citizens.

The Department of Justice recently released figures for the 2012-13 time frame, Heather MacDonald, with the Manhattan Institute published a table of statistics based on the figures. For the first time, Hispanics have been treated as a separate category instead of lumping them in with white.

The report shows that during the period covered by the study, blacks committed an average of 486,000 violent crimes against whites while whites committed only 99,403 violent crimes against blacks.

The violent interracial crime involving blacks and Hispanics happens the same proportions as black on white crime. Blacks are the attackers 82 percent of the time; however Hispanics are attackers less than 18% of the time.There’s been a great deal of press given to black on black violence, but the latest figures indicate that just over 40% of the victims of black violence are black. People of other races account for almost 60% of the victims of black violence.One in every 15 African-American males are in jail, and only one in 36 Hispanics males are incarcerated.

Infographic: Learn the Facts

latino criminal infographic


Representations of Latinos are found in America mass media, literature, theater and other creative expressions.

White Latinos, Asian Latinos, and Black Lations are overlooked in the American mass media. American social perceptions, where being “Latino” is incorrectly given a racial value, usually mixed-race, such as Mestizo or Mulatto.

“Latino” is an ethnic grouping that is comprised of many races while, in turn, mixed-race and white, American Latinos are overrepresented and admired in the US mass media.

In the Media

Writing for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Serafin Mendez-Mendez reported:

Latino-related stories comprise less than 1% of all the stories appearing on network newscasts when Latinos make up over 13% of the American population.

Crime, terrorism, poverty, and welfare accounted for 66% of all network stories about Latinos., a minority organization said: “Who we see, hear and read on television and in movies has a great deal of influence in shaping the attitudes of all Americans.”


Latino stereotypes are based on misconceptions and mistakes.

Setting people aside for a moment, geography can be mistaken as well. For example, Iguazu Falls and the Amazon Rainforest are often treated as though they were in proximity. Cities are depicted with features they don’t have or depicted as shanty towns with monkeys, large cats and alligators roaming the streets.

As for the Latin American people, they are often depicted as being poor with the women wearing Carmen Miranda-style fruit hats. The are often shown as working in low-income labor jobs and usually, for males, that job is a gardener and for the woman, a maid. Fashion, technology, and architecture are often thought to be somewhere between a colonial and a 1950s fashion.

The same stereotypes prevail in America where most Latinos are depicted as poor. American media dismisses anything that doesn’t fit into the stereotype, and developing nations such as Chile, Uruguay, and Costa Rica have little to no crime.

Three Surprising Facts About Latinos

1Latino Immigration Declined Under Obama’s Anti-immigration Policies

The same stereotypes prevail in America where most Latinos are depicted as poor. American media dismisses anything that doesn’t fit into the stereotype, and developing nations such as Chile, Uruguay, and Costa Rica have little to no crime.

2Latino Family Values Show up in Vacations

67% of Latinos spend their vacations with their families. If one vacation isn’t enough, they take two. The survey showed that over 75% of Latinos take more than one vacation per year. Are they going to the Bahamas or Europe? No.

Of all the Latinos in America, over 60% returned to their homeland to enjoy family during vacation demonstrating how cultural roots have a more power role than many wishes to admit.

3Hate Crimes Against Latinos are on the Rise

Right behind blacks, Latinos constitute the most discriminated group in America.

In a US Department of Justice study, researchers found that in 2012, Latinos experienced a higher rate of hate crime than whites and blacks. Hate crime incidents against Latinos more than tripled in comparison to whites and slightly higher rate than blacks.

Crime Trends

Some studies have argued for smaller racial disparities in violent crime. However, a recent survey of government data found that the reduction in Black violent crime about white violent crime was a leftover from earlier studies, which counted Latino offenders as White.

The Latino population has been increasing fast, and Latinos have violence rates higher than Whites, but lower than Blacks.


According to the American Department of Justice, blacks made up 52.4% of homicide offenders while whites accounted for 45.4%. “Other,” or Latino, criminals came in at 2.3%. The offending rates for blacks was almost 9 points higher than whites.

Federal Offenses

According to a paper by the Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos accounted for 39% of all sentenced federal offenders, an increase from 23% in the previous study in 1991. Of the Latino offenders convicted at the federal level, almost half were for immigration offenses and 38% were for drug offenses.

Race/Socioeconomic Status

Where there seems to be a relationship between blacks and Latinos and crime, the data shows there is a stronger tie between poverty and crime instead of crime and a particular racial group.

Studies show that areas with low socioeconomic status have the greatest correlation of crime with males, regardless of ethnic composition.
Ostensia Bonilla, a 56-year old manager at a party supply store in downtown Mexico City, moved to Illinois in 2007 with her daughter. Two years later, she decided to leave.

“I was concerned about the crowd she was hanging out with,” said Bonilla. “There were too many people using drugs in her circle.”
And with that, the family moved back to avoid the very issue that Trump proclaims all of Mexico suffers.

“Of course, we have drug problems,” Bonilla said.

“But we aren’t the ones using the drugs. The addicts are in America.”



Immigrants Harm the American Economy and Jobs


A report from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers issued a report on “Immigration’s Economic Impact.” The Council reasoned that immigrants not only help fuel the country’s economic growth but have a positive, overall effect on the economy.

Besides have an overall positive effect on the economy, an increase in immigrant workers tends to increase employment rates among the native-born. According to a Pew Hispanic Center study, there was a definite correlation between the increase in the foreign-born residents and the employment of native-born workers in 27 states as well as the District of Columbia.


Latino Immigrants Don’t Want to Learn English


Latino immigrants believe they need to learn English to succeed in America
Immigrants being accused of refusing to learn English is as old as the country. The allegations are no more true today than in 1776. Just like with prior waves of immigrants, there is an increase in English-language skills from one generation to the next. In the first major study of the children of immigrants, Rambaut and Portes found the “pattern of linguistic assimilation prevails across nationalities.”

Despite many first-generation Latino immigrants are unable to speak English, 89 percent of their US-born adult children state that they chat in English very well. Studies also indicate that the number rises dramatically for each subsequent generation.

There remains to be a market for English language classes that exceeds the supply. If all of the immigrants who wanted an English class was able to find one, the result would advance Latino integration into American life.


Immigrants Don’t Want to Become Citizens


Despite the difficult requirements and huge backlogs, Latino immigrants to America see citizenship.
Most immigrants are not eligible to file an application for citizenship until they have lived in the US under lawful permanent resident status for five years and met several other criteria. Additionally, people applying for naturalization have to pay a fee of over $600, and this makes it harder for low-income immigrants to attain citizenship.


Immigrants Bring Crime to America


Immigrants are less likely to commit crime than their native-born counterparts.
According to recent studies by the US Department of Justice, immigrants maintain low crime rates.

While incarceration rates are highest among young low-income Latino men, the rates are lower than for their native-born counterparts.

Cities like Hazleton, Pennsylvania have attempted to accuse a new wave of immigrants for a perceived rise in crime. The city’s perception was wrong as Hazleton’s crime statistics shows that overall crime in the city declined and is now less than half of the nationwide average.


Most immigrants are undocumented and are in America illegally


66% of immigrants are in America lawfully. Even half of all undocumented immigrants entered America legally.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, a third of all immigrants are undocumented, a third have some form of legal status, and a third are naturalized citizens.

Roughly half of all undocumented immigrants entered the US on visas that allowed them to reside in the country temporarily as tourists, students or temporary workers.

10 Most Well-Known Latino Criminals

Regardless of the reasons for their fame, here are 10 famous cases involving Latinos who were accused or convicted of crimes.

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