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Homicide and Social Disorganization on the Border: Implications for Latino and Immigrant Populations


  • Theodore R. Curry will share all data and coding for replication purposes.



We advance social disorganization theory by examining homicides disaggregated by motive and gang relation and by using data from El Paso, Texas—a predominantly Latino city with high levels of immigration and poverty.


We analyze homicide data from the El Paso Police Department's detective logs, 1985–1995, as well as data from the 1990 U.S. Decennial Census.


Key measures of social disorganization tend to be associated with homicide but these relationships vary across type of homicide. Immigration and percent African American show no connection with any homicide measure, while percent Latino is only positively associated with gang-related homicides.


Overall, social disorganization is useful in understanding homicide in El Paso, but race/ethnicity and immigration do not operate as predicted. These results add important knowledge to a growing literature regarding the neighborhood-level associations between immigration, Latinos, and crime.