Immigrant Political Opportunities and Crime Reporting Behavior: A Multilevel Analysis on Latino and Other Minority Victims' Odds of Reporting Victimization to Law Enforcement
Dr. Daniel Martinez
School of Sociology
University of Arizona
Abstract: Studies find the implementation of “sanctuary” policies is associated with declines in US city and neighborhood violence, contradicting political narratives that justify restrictive immigration legislation. Evidence also reveals that sanctuary policies strengthen the inverse relationship between immigration and crime. However, empirical studies have not fully assessed the individual-level mechanisms or processes that facilitate the crime-reducing effects of sanctuary policies. Drawing on the concept of immigrant political opportunities, researchers speculate that sanctuary policies foster positive community-police relations, expand cooperation in law enforcement investigations, and increase immigrants’ willingness to report crime victimization, which reinforce community social control and reduce crime. We assess the third of these claims by examining how changes in immigrant political opportunities affect individuals’ odds of reporting crime victimization to law enforcement. We find that the adoption of sanctuary policies and growth in the percentage of votes cast for Democratic presidential candidates, another dimension of immigrant political opportunities, increase the odds that Latinos report violent crime victimization to law enforcement. Our study is among the first quantitative investigations into the effect of sanctuary policies on individual-level behavior. Furthermore, our results suggest immigrant political opportunities may serve a role in fostering community well-being by increasing community trust in local institutions.