Laura Hickman – Research Spotlight
Hear from Dr. Hickman as she examines her work with immigration and crime.
0:07 So the way that I found myself engaged in this immigration and crime research was a little bit unusual; I was working at the Rand Corporation as a full-time researcher. I was minding my own business and a colleague came in and said, “Hey, we are going to participate with the LA County Sheriff’s Office and the…” what was then called the INS to see if we can count up how many so called deportable aliens are exiting the LA County Jail.
0:36 And so eventually I found myself leading this entire operation. And I started to really get interested and intrigued by this topic.
0:46 It is something that is really lacking in our field. There is a growing number of studies about immigration and crime, but it is really exciting to be part of this growth industry where folks are realizing that as a discipline we need to do a better job of studying this issue. But also being able to help answer some really important policy questions from a research standpoint. That is why I went into this business to start with is to have something useful to say or to provide to policy makers and to people who are just interested in the topic.
1:20 Actually provide unbiased data about a topic I think is really important. The topic that immigration and crime is particularly important because it is a population that people make a huge number of claims about; politicians and the public make a lot of assertions about folks who are foreign born and involved in our criminal justice system. There are a lot of claims that are made that they are a particularly high-risk or dangerous population but there isn’t a lot of study or actual data on those kinds of issues. So it is really important that researchers roll up their sleeves and get to work studying this group so we actually have something to contribute to this really rancorous political debate about what should be done with so-called illegal immigrants or folks who don’t have legal permission to be in the country.
2:11 It turns out that this topic, immigration and crime, is so understudied that there is a wealth of opportunities to keep at this. My colleagues and I have been able to obtain nine years worth of follow-up data of rearrest data on this same population. So we are going to begin doing some analysis to see what has happened to this group of deportable aliens nine years later. And I fully expect another nine years from now we will be doing this again. It is a really interesting question. Not just looking at what happens one year later but over time it really adds a lot to the policy information that we can gain from these kinds of data.