The HFG grant supported the first book-length attempt to answer questions on Latino homicide with hard evidence and empirical research that helps us better understand the impact of the latest wave of Latino immigration. My focus is on Latinos and Latino homicide in five cities—Chicago, El Paso, Houston, Miami, and San Diego—which have faced extensive and sustained waves of immigration, and in the case of El Paso and San Diego, some of the longest history of Latino settlement in the United States. This process, in turn, should impact Latinos more than any other ethnic group and have a corresponding influence on homicide. But the alleged immigration/crime link has had relatively little direct influence on Latinos. Latino homicide rates have not changed in a uniform manner. Instead, they have been characterized by exceptional variation across urban areas since 1980: some rose, others fell or even remained stable, but most remained lower than expected.
More specifically, my primary objectives were: 1) to describe and explain the extent of urban Latino homicide and relate the patterns that emerge to other ethnic group patterns; 2) to explore similarities and differences within the Latino population; and 3) to determine the influences and circumstances that shape the nature of Latino homicides in urban communities. With the population growth of Latinos—soon to be the largest ethnic minority group in the U.S.—writers and researchers have promoted a discussion about urban violence that rests on beliefs, guesses, and opinions about the latest threat to the national social fabric. This book challenges the perceived nature of Latino criminality and the assumption that Latinos, especially young Latino males, are a criminally inclined or a highly victimized ethnic group, by filling the gaps in contemporary analyses of Latino violence.
Latino homicide rates have not changed in a uniform manner. Instead, they have been characterized by exceptional variation across urban areas since 1980: some rose, others fell or even remained stable, but most remained lower than expected.
In closing, by focusing on Latinos and homicide in these five cities, the conclusions presented in this book demonstrated that Latinos are not usually engaged in high levels of violent crime and that immigration can be a positive influence on communities that suppresses crime. Until now, this group has largely gone ignored and this notion has rarely been explored. But the incorporation of Latinos into criminological research will inevitably intensify, and when it does, my hope is that this book will provide a foundation on which others can build studies that effectively capture meaningful group differences, as well as a rationale for moving beyond Black and White comparisons. Since the United States increasingly resembles its multiethnic cities, and since Latino-majority communities are proliferating, the time has come to ask more questions about Latinos and crime.
Martinez, Ramiro Jr. Latino Homicide: Immigration, Violence, and Community. New York City and London: Routledge Press. Taylor & Francis Group.
Martinez, Ramiro Jr., Amie L. Nielsen and Matthew T. Lee. Reconsidering the Marielito Legacy: Race/Ethnicity, Nativity and Homicide Motives. (Social Science Quarterly, June 2003.)