Assessing the Relationship Between Immigration Status and Drug Use

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Reports and Publications
September 2010
Charles M. Katz, Andrew M. Fox, Michael D. White

The immigration–crime connection has been the basis for numerous immigration policy decisions. However, there are theoretical arguments and empirical evidence both for and against the positive relationship between immigration and crime. Moreover, much of this research has failed to focus specifically on illegal immigrants. The current study examines drug use patterns among 3,050 recently booked arrestees in Maricopa County, Arizona, from April 2007 to September 2008. Using logistic regression, the authors isolate the effects of immigration status on several types of drug use while controlling for relevant individual and situational characteristics. Findings show that illegal immigrants are generally less likely to use drugs when compared to US citizens, with the exception of powder cocaine use. The paper concludes with a discussion of the study’s implications for the larger body of research on immigration and crime, as well for immigration and enforcement policy and practice.

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