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Illegal Immigration and Crime in San Diego and El Paso Counties, 1985-1986 (ICPSR 9330)

Principal Investigator(s): Pennell, Susan; Curtis, Christine; Tayman, Jeff


This study was conducted to examine whether a rising crime rate in El Paso, Texas and San Diego, California in 1986 could be attributed to, among other factors, the influx of undocumented aliens. Variables include level of involvement of undocumented aliens in serious felony arrests in San Diego and El Paso Counties, the outcome of serious felony arrest cases involving undocumented persons compared to others arrested for similar offenses, the impact of arrests of undocumented aliens on the criminal justice system in terms of workload and cost, the extent that criminal justice agencies coordinate their efforts to apprehend and process undocumented aliens who have committed serious crimes in San Diego and El Paso counties, and how differences in agency objectives impede or enhance coordination. Data are also provided on how many undocumented persons were arrested/convicted for repeat offense in these counties and which type of policies or procedures could be implemented in criminal justice agencies to address the issue of crimes committed by undocumented aliens. Data were collected in the two cities with focus on serious felony offenses. The collection includes sociodemographic characteristics, citizenship status, current arrest, case disposition, and prior criminal history with additional data from San Diego to compute the costs involving undocumented aliens.

Access Notes


DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  San Diego County Data - Download All Files (11.587 MB)
DS2:  El Paso County Data - Download All Files (10.732 MB)

Study Description


Pennell, Susan, Christine Curtis, and Jeff Tayman. ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND CRIME IN SAN DIEGO AND EL PASO COUNTIES, 1985-1986. San Diego, CA: Criminal Justice Research Unit, San Diego Association of Governments [producer], 1990. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1990.

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (86-IJ-CX-0038)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    arrests, crime rates, criminal justice system, felony offenses, illegal immigrants, immigration

Geographic Coverage:    California, Texas, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1985--1986

Date of Collection:   

  • 1987--1988

Universe:    Serious felony offense arrests in El Paso County, Texas and San Diego County, California.

Data Type(s):    event/transaction data


Sample:    In El Paso all arrests for selected offenses were included. In San Diego all homicide and rape arrests were included. A stratified random sample with equal probabilities used to select 40 percent of the arrests was chosen within each of the other offense categories, which included robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, grand theft and motor vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, and felony narcotics offenses.

Data Source:

Law enforcement arrest reports and records, sheriff's booking files, prosecutor files, court files, state criminal history rap sheets, and Immigration Naturalization Service (INS) records


Original ICPSR Release:   1990-05-01

Version History:

  • 2006-01-18 File CB9330.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

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