Is illegal immigration causing xenophobia

Internal security

Christian Walburg

Dr. Christian Walburg conducts research at the Institute for Criminal Sciences at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster on the subject of migration and crime.

Crimes committed by migrants receive a lot of public attention in times of high immigration. A differentiated look at current crime statistics and studies shows that there is no simple formula for relationships between migration and crime.

Man with handcuffs. Even among migrants, only a small proportion commit offenses. (& copy picture-alliance / dpa)


1 Introduction
2. Germans and foreigners in crime statistics
3. Different likelihood of criminalization?
4. Differences according to areas of crime
5. Juvenile delinquency
6. Refugees and crime
7. Conclusion

Short and sweet

Migration and crime

  • Even among migrants, only a small proportion commit offenses. However, migrants (descendants) are generally more likely to commit criminal offenses than non-migrants. The differences can partly be explained by a different age and gender composition as well as by stressful living conditions and experiences in some immigrant groups.
  • Adult migrants with prospects of access to the labor market are generally very rarely conspicuous for criminal offenses.
  • In the case of violent crimes by refugees, conflicts in communal accommodation, low social ties, stress from the precarious living situation and possible previous experiences of violence play a role.
  • Among young people from migrant families who have been resident for a long time, the crime rate has recently decreased significantly, as has also been the case with young people without a migration background.

1 Introduction

Crimes committed by migrants receive a lot of public attention in times of high immigration. Crime, i.e. the violation of central social norms, is often seen as the epitome of integration problems. General uncertainties that are triggered, for example, by social change, global inequalities, economic crises, wars and conflicts in neighboring regions as well as the resulting migration processes, [1] receive a concrete, tangible point of reference through reports on crimes committed by immigrants. [2] With all of this, certain forms of immigration, in particular refugee migration, are initially associated with the considerable risk of immigrants becoming victims of a crime themselves. [3] This begins with repressive and brutal regimes and (civil) warring parties in the countries of origin and can continue during the flight in transit countries with financial exploitation, violence and sexual assault by people smugglers, security forces or in refugee camps. In the host countries, immigrants can also be exposed to xenophobic hostility and attacks.

In the host societies, on the other hand, the focus is primarily on crime as a possible consequence of immigration emanating from immigrants. This can also be observed again in connection with the arrival of an unusually high number of asylum seekers in 2015 and at the beginning of 2016. Crimes involving refugees and migrants are particularly well reported [4] and they raise concerns about the extent to which the immigration processes are manageable. In addition, there are concerns about a decline in social acceptance and commitment to refugees. The fact that political actors at home and abroad use the emotionally charged subject of crime to stir up fears and resentment towards migrants [5] and paint the distorted image of a country in which more and more crimes are committed is by no means new. For these actors, the subject of crime is at the center of a general crisis and emergency rhetoric - also to underpin calls for increasingly harsh anti-migration measures. In this context, not least due to new forms of communication on the Internet, a real struggle for the authority to interpret official crime statistics, which have always been in great need of interpretation, has recently developed.

In this particular situation, it is worth taking a look at classic and more recent findings from scientific studies on the connections between migration and crime. Contrary to what is sometimes assumed, this topic is by no means scientifically taboo, but has been the subject of criminological studies and debates at home and abroad for decades. [6] However, the answers to questions about the impact of immigration processes on crime, the involvement of migrants in crime and the corresponding causes are complex. Migration processes, immigrant groups and reception conditions in the countries of arrival are just as diverse as forms of criminal behavior; there is neither “the migrants” nor “the crime”. Nevertheless, certain basic patterns and tendencies can be recognized from research and current impressions from crime statistics.

2. Germans and foreigners in crime statistics

Overall, migrants in Western European societies are overrepresented among the suspects recorded by the police, those convicted by the courts and prisoners. In many countries, including Germany, however, the registration frequency of migrants cannot be read directly from crime statistics, since they usually do not record the country of birth. However, at least statements can be made about the registration frequency of the foreign population. However, it should be kept in mind that this group is not identical to the migrant population: in 2018, 38% of those born abroad nationwide (e.g. as (late) repatriates or naturalized migrant workers) had German citizenship (Figure 1). Among the native-born descendants of migrants, this is the case for the vast majority (75%). So not all migrants (descendants) are foreigners.

[7] In addition, among the foreign suspects (in addition to non-naturalized migrants or descendants of migrants) there are also people who are only temporarily in Germany as tourists, travelers or purposely to commit crimes and who have been noticed here because of a crime. So not all suspect foreigners who are recorded in the crime statistics are people living in Germany (and recorded in the local population statistics) with their own or parental migration history (see overview in Figure 2).

Diagram 2 (& copy Christian Walburg)

The "non-migrant" foreign suspects are definitely a relevant group. According to police crime statistics, in 2019 a total of 11.8% of the foreign suspects identified (without violations of immigration law such as entry and residence without the required visa or residence permit) were domiciled abroad. [8] For a further 12%, the police could not determine a (fixed) place of residence. All of this applies primarily to theft. In the case of vehicle theft, the proportion of foreign suspects residing abroad was even 36.4% of all foreign suspects. The general comparison of the total proportion of all foreign suspects (all offenses without violations of immigration law in 2019: 30.4%) with the proportion of foreigners in the population registered with the registration offices (2019: approx. 12.5%) therefore results in an incorrect, Exaggerated picture of the registration frequency of foreigners living here.

In the long-term trend, the proportion of foreigners among all suspects was subject to considerable fluctuations, which were closely related to new immigration processes caused by poverty or war flight and in some cases also to changes in cross-border theft offenses. With the significant increase in immigration after the end of the East-West conflict and the outbreak of the Yugoslav wars, the proportion of foreigners among the suspects rose significantly from the late 1980s and reached a peak in the early 1990s (see Figure 3). After 1993, however, the proportion continued to decline and by 2008, at 20% (theft offenses) and 23.5% (violent offenses), it reached roughly the same level as in 1987. Since 2008, the number of immigrants has risen sharply again a significant increase in the number of the foreign population (from 6.7 million to more than 10 million in recent times). [9] As a result, and due to the falling number of suspects among Germans in this phase, the proportion of foreigners has recently risen sharply again and was 38.0% (theft offenses) and 37.5% (violent offenses) in 2019.

The increase in the proportion of foreigners among the suspects therefore does not mean that the relative frequency of registration of the foreign population has increased significantly overall during this period. So it is not the case that "foreigners" are recorded per capita more often for criminal offenses than they were ten years ago. For the foreign population who have been resident for a longer period of time, there have been rather declining tendencies, just like in the German population.

More precise calculations of the registration frequency in the foreign resident population suggest that the total proportion of suspects (with more established and newly immigrated foreigners) has remained relatively constant over the years. According to the police crime statistics of the State of Berlin, in 2019, for example, 2.4% of the German nationals registered there as resident [10] were registered with the police for a criminal offense (without violations of immigration law); [11] A special evaluation in Schleswig-Holstein showed a registration rate of 1.8% for Germans living there in 2016, that of the foreign resident population there was 4.2%. [12] Similar ratios were already determined for 2006 in Bavaria: In the German population the proportion of suspects was 2%, in the foreign population there the figure was 4% at that time. [13]

Such overall comparisons do not take into account, in some cases, considerable socio-demographic differences between the groups under consideration. A certain part of the more frequent registration of foreigners is simply due to the fact that this population group has proportionally more young men (and, for example, fewer women of senior age) than the German population. Men in transition from adolescence to adulthood have the highest crime rates in all societies and at all times. This fact is particularly significant when classifying the registration frequency of asylum seekers who have moved in in recent years, among whom there were considerably more men of a "criminologically relevant" age than in the general population (see Section 6).

3. Different likelihood of criminalization?

Finally, there is another fundamental aspect that is important. Official crime statistics only show a part of all criminal behavior. Incidents that became known to the police and judiciary (primarily through reports, to a lesser extent through proactive activity by the authorities) and which the authorities at the time of statistical recording (in the case of the police when submitting the investigation to the public prosecutor) are recorded. have been judged as (probably) punishable (so-called bright field of crime). A comparison of the "actual" crime participation of different social groups (for example younger and older, poorer and richer or immigrant and non-immigrant people) on the basis of official statistics presupposes that the probability that criminal behavior is discovered, reported and officially registered as well subsequently leads to a conviction, is approximately the same in the corresponding groups. However, this cannot always be assumed without further ado.

In connection with migration, survey studies have shown, for example, that the decision of a young victim of a violent act to file a criminal complaint also depends on whether the perpetrator is considered a "stranger" in addition to many other factors (such as the severity of the offense or personal acquaintance with the perpetrator). is perceived. [14] For minority members, this can result in an overall increased probability of being reported for a criminal offense. Conversely, it must be kept in mind that criminal behavior within comparatively closed milieus, which (also) exist among migrants, is particularly seldom revealed.

The extent to which people of foreign origin are also more frequently checked by the police has so far been little researched in Germany. Cases that have become known [15] and Europe-wide surveys among members of minorities [16] indicate, however, that there are occasionally personal controls based primarily on external characteristics (racial / ethnic profiling). Statutory regulations also play a role here, as they enable inspections independent of cause or suspicion, for example in train traffic to determine illegal entries. [17]

With regard to decisions made by public prosecutors and courts, there are no completely uniform findings regarding possible discrimination against foreigners and migrants. A more recent study, however, revealed indications of a somewhat harsher sentence for foreign defendants, especially those from non-EU countries. [18] However, the differences were smaller in 2010 than in 1998. It has also been evident for a long time that there is a significantly higher probability of foreign suspects that pre-trial detention will be ordered during the criminal proceedings, as there is a much higher risk of escape.

At the various levels of reporting, police work and judicial decisions, there are definitely indications of distortions to the detriment of foreigners or migrants. Nevertheless, all in all, it cannot be assumed that different registration frequencies can be explained solely by diverging reporting frequencies, more intensive police controls or differences in sentencing. [19]

4. Differences according to areas of crime

The overall frequency of registration and the overall proportion of suspects by foreigners are not very meaningful in and of themselves. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that many migrants (descendants) are not foreigners and some foreign suspects are not migrants. However, new immigration processes, currently of Syrian refugees, for example, can still be mapped comparatively well using the characteristic of citizenship. In addition, however, migrants, like non-migrants, are not a homogeneous group. The underlying immigration processes and the associated life situations are extremely diverse. Accordingly, a distinction must also be made with regard to crime, which also exists in very different facets.

At home and abroad, for example, it has repeatedly been shown that first-generation migrants, i.e. people who immigrated themselves as adults, are regularly not particularly likely to attract criminal offenses. This is especially true when there is a chance of access to the labor market. [20] In Germany, for example, this was the case with so-called guest workers and later also for (late) repatriates who immigrated as adults. [21] In view of the initially often low social ties and participation, such a result may appear somewhat surprising. It is often explained by the fact that in these cases there is often a high level of motivation to gain a foothold and not endanger the migration project through criminal offenses. Age is also relevant. The immigration experience, which is quite drastic in many cases, takes place at an age in which personality development and normal socialization have essentially already taken place. An "entry into crime" only in the third or even fourth decade of life is generally unlikely, according to the findings of criminological research [22].

Theft offenses
On closer inspection and differentiation according to areas of crime and countries of origin, it can currently be seen in Western Europe that migrants from so-called Western countries (i.e. especially from other "EU 12" countries) often have comparatively low registration rates across many areas of crime. The same applies to theft offenses, for example for former migrant workers ("guest workers") and their descendants. Other groups, on the other hand, are registered above average for theft.The main reasons for a higher proportion of suspects among immigrants from Balkan states in theft offenses are above all a massive prosperity gap between Southeastern and Western Europe, unstable social conditions and significantly marginalized population groups in the countries of origin, precarious living conditions and unfavorable prospects for some immigrants in Western Europe and, in some cases, cross-border gang structures. By 2015, the number of suspects from Balkan countries (excluding the EU) for theft offenses had risen significantly (Figure 4). With the significant decline in immigration from this region, however, it is currently on the decline again. Recently, the absolute number of Romanian suspects has also decreased slightly, which has also increased with the significant new immigration from this country since the mid-2000s. In all of these cases, one should also consider: Although the theft registration rates are above average, it is of course not possible to generalize. The vast majority of those affected are not noticed by theft or other criminal offenses. The number of Romanian suspects registered for theft was around 23,800 in 2019 (a certain part of which was probably not registered in Germany) - this is with a total of almost 750,000 Romanian citizens who were registered in the central foreigner register as resident here at the end of 2019.

With the influx of immigrants from North African countries, the number of those suspected of theft from these countries had increased particularly sharply since 2012. From the development of the absolute number of suspects it can be seen that a part of the young male new immigrants from North Africa (which cannot be precisely quantified as a percentage) was soon involved in thefts and other crimes in order to generate income. Even for this group, some of whom were already delinquent before they entered the country and who have unfavorable prospects both in their countries of origin and in Europe, a significant downward trend has been observed since 2017. In the case of the increase in the absolute number of suspects among refugees from war and crisis countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, which can also be seen in Figure 4, it must be taken into account that, in relation to their sharply increased population, they have so far been registered comparatively rarely for theft offenses.


Violent crimes
When it comes to violent crimes, the patterns are somewhat different. In Western European host societies, there are indications of an increased level of violence, especially among young men from immigrant families, i.e. in the second generation of migrants. In Germany, this could be seen on the basis of crime statistics and survey studies, for example in the descendants of "guest workers" and in young male repatriates who were "taken along" in childhood or adolescence. But even in the first generation of immigrants, increased risks of violence can sometimes be observed. [24]

With regard to the causes, the stressful living conditions and educational differences that are increasingly encountered in some migrant groups must first be taken into account. In addition, it is pointed out that coming from more patriarchal societies with a less developed state monopoly on the use of force can additionally favor violent behavior by men. [25] The scope of such influences is controversial, [26] although there is agreement that blanket judgments and unilateral statements are prohibited. [27] Violence, especially in more severe forms, affects only a small minority even among migrants, and it naturally occurs among non-migrants as well. Overall, interculturally, it can be assumed that the central prohibition norms (stealing, killing, robbery, etc.) are largely similar, so the vast majority of the offenses actually committed are equally punishable in the country of origin and in the receiving country. [28] It should also be borne in mind that the societies of origin are also culturally heterogeneous. Moreover, traditional gender role models cannot be equated across the board with a willingness to use violence. Nonetheless, it can be seen that ideas of male dominance, which are more widespread in some immigrant groups than in the general population, can also encourage violent behavior in certain situations. According to studies, differences in the frequency of violence between migrants and non-migrants can sometimes [29], but not always completely, be explained by less favorable living conditions, which leaves room for additional "origin-related" explanations. [30] Such influences are plausible, especially as far as violent crimes are concerned, which are justified in defense of one's own or family "honor". [31]

5. Juvenile delinquency

As far as the risk of delinquency in adolescence is concerned, in the past few decades there has been a tendency towards higher levels of exposure among adolescent migrants or the descendants of migrants in many Western European host societies. However, even among young people from migrant families, repeated and serious delinquency only affects a small proportion. In all of this, the increased proportion of perpetrators is not limited to a specific country of origin or a single religious group. [32] As is the case with young people without a migrant background, the direct explanatory factors can be identified as belonging to deviant circles of friends and, partly strengthened by this, a low level of commitment to norms. Both are promoted by growing up under the conditions of social marginalization. For example, a "Code of the Street" [33] can increasingly be observed across countries and cultures among marginalized young men (possibly from disadvantaged neighborhoods). [34] This is characterized by the fact that a display of willingness to use violence should demonstrate one's own strength and assertiveness in order to gain self-worth and recognition in the group. Perceptions of marginalization can result from lower economic resources and less favorable educational and professional perspectives. Such circumstances are, as background factors, just as important for young people without a migration background as they are for young people from immigrant families. In addition, with young people of foreign origin, individual and intra-family difficulties in getting used to a new cultural environment as well as experiences of exclusion can intensify the feeling of not belonging and thus contribute to promoting deviating norm orientations, self-images and life paths. [35] According to research findings, additional risks can arise from the particularly limited possibilities of parental supervision in some migrant families as well as from traditional images of masculinity and violent upbringing styles. [36]

In recent years it has become apparent that the prevalence of crime not only among young people without a migration background, but also among young people from immigrant families (usually those who were already born in Germany or who have lived here for a long time) has in some cases significantly decreased (see Figure 5 ). [37] For example, according to repeated survey studies by the Lower Saxony Criminological Research Institute, the proportion of 15-year-olds with a migration background who stated that they had committed at least one bodily harm in the previous year fell from 16.5% to 7.3% between 2007/08 and 2015. [38] In some regional studies, for the third generation of guest worker descendants, the risk of violence was converging as early as the mid-2000s, for example in Duisburg [39]; improved participation in education plays an important role in this. A clear downward trend could recently also be read from the nationwide police crime statistics. Young people of Turkish origin who were born before the year 2000 (i.e. before the reformed citizenship law came into force) did not, for the most part, have German citizenship. The registration frequency of young people with Turkish citizenship, which can be determined at least approximately [40] on the basis of data from the crime statistics and the central register of foreigners, was therefore still comparatively meaningful up to 2014. The proportion of male Turkish adolescents registered for a violent crime fell from around 6% to around 2.5% between 2007 and 2014.

6. Refugees and crime

In particular due to the exceptionally high influx of asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, the number of asylum seekers living in Germany (including recognized and rejected asylum seekers) has recently increased significantly and rose from 550,000 to just under 1.8 million between 2012 and the end of 2018. [41]

Findings from current scientific studies on crime risks among refugees are currently still largely pending. So far, ratings have primarily been based on numbers from police crime statistics, which require a more precise classification. The politically charged "refugee" term can only be represented to a limited extent by the categories of crime statistics. In this context, the police authorities have been using the already established suspect categories of asylum seekers, contingent refugees, tolerated persons and illegally resident persons, who are now collectively referred to as "immigrants" in the annual reports and in newly created situation reports. [42] Since 2016 (in the nationwide statistics since 2017), recognized refugees have also been counted among the suspected "immigrants"; previously these had not been recorded separately and were included in a large residual category "foreigners with other legal residence". Not only newly immigrated persons are counted in the respective data collection year, but also migrants who have been in Germany for a long time with a corresponding reason for residence (e.g. in an asylum procedure, as tolerated or recognized refugees).

The rather broad term "immigrants" chosen by the authorities does not cover all immigrant suspects, for example non-migrants from EU countries or persons from third countries who are in Germany with a residence permit, for example to take up work. Conversely, the suspected "immigrants" are not exclusively those seeking protection. In this context, it has not yet been adequately investigated to what extent suspects are reliably assigned to the corresponding reasons for staying in police practice, and to what extent there may be double entries, for example due to incorrect names being corrected. In addition, it is not easy to state precise relative registration frequencies for "immigrants", since the population figures required for this, especially in phases of high immigration (e.g. in the course of 2015), fluctuate greatly and are still comparatively imprecise. In particular, the number of people who are illegally staying in the country cannot, of course, be precisely quantified.

Nonetheless, certain basic tendencies for the officially recorded crime can be seen on the basis of the numbers from the crime statistics. It can be seen that the crimes committed by newly arrived refugees are closely related to their limited living conditions. As was the case with the influx of refugees in the 1990s, the range of offenses is currently largely characterized by mostly lighter thefts, driving without a ticket, but also by bodily harm offenses (see Table 1 for 2019). [43]Violence and sexual offenses
In the case of violent crimes, the crime statistics of some federal states show that in 2015 and 2016 they often involved disputes in communal accommodation. The State Criminal Police Office of Baden-Württemberg, for example, stated that in 2016, refugee accommodation was recorded as a crime scene in around 60% of all assault crimes assigned to refugees. [44] It is easy to foresee that the cramped coexistence of people of different origins and prospects of residence, including above-average young men, in a life situation characterized by uncertainty about the future, unstructured daily routines and limited autonomy without sufficient privacy leads to conflicts. [45] Such disputes are often sparked off by everyday issues of living together, and in some cases ethnic and religious demarcations also play a role. Even as far as violent crimes occur outside of refugee accommodation, stress from the flight and the current life situation, experiences of frustration, lack of employment and poor everyday structure, previous experiences of violence, [46] group dynamics and a lack of social control by the family are likely to be of major importance. Future study results will be able to give a more precise picture of this.

The most serious violent crimes, which occur very rarely in general, but of course also among refugees, are perceived particularly strongly in this context. The overall development of capital crimes, for example, has declined significantly over the past 20 years. In total, around a third fewer cases of completed homicide (murder and manslaughter) have recently been registered than at the turn of the millennium (Figure 6). In the reporting year 2019, at least one "immigrant" was identified as a suspect in 43 of a total of 494 cases cleared up by the police. [47]

As far as sexual offenses are concerned, the number of cases registered since 2017 is not easily comparable with those of previous years due to the far-reaching legislative changes in this area that came into force in November 2016; behavior (as a sexual offense) is now punishable where this was not the case before. Advertisement behavior may also have been intensified by the intense public debates. The proportion of suspected "immigrants" among all suspects in offenses against sexual self-determination (total) was 10.4% in 2019, and 15.2% in the case of rape, severe sexual assault and sexual assault in the particularly serious case. The development of the number of cases in this area has been rather stable overall over the past 20 years, and in some cases has also decreased significantly. This applies, for example, to the rape or serious sexual coercion offenses that were separately classified as "attack-like" until 2017 (2000: 2,493 cases, 2017: 1,068 cases, with an increase in the meantime to 1,357 cases in 2016 as a result of the attacks on New Year's Eve 2015/16). The proportion of foreigners / refugees in these offenses is clearly above average. At the same time, of course, only an extremely small proportion of all foreigners / refugees are found to have serious "attack-like" sexual offenses (absolute number of foreign suspects as "lone perpetrators" in 2017: 265; from groups: 55). [48] With all of this, it should be borne in mind that the majority of sexual offenses are not carried out like an attack by a foreign perpetrator, but are committed in close social circles and - with locals and refugees - in the home / private environment or in shared accommodation there is a comparatively large number of unreported areas.

Developments from 2015 to 2019
Overall, the absolute as well as the relative number of criminal offenses registered by the police - the latter is about the more meaningful so-called crime frequency number (COC) of the offenses per 100,000 inhabitants - has hardly increased in recent years, in many areas of crime (theft, robbery) it has even increased continues to decline. The sometimes drawn picture of a dramatic crime development associated with the influx of refugees is not supported by these figures. Regardless of this, the number and proportion of offenses in which at least one "immigrant" was recorded as a suspect rose steadily up to 2016, in line with the sharp increase in the influx of asylum seekers. From 2017 onwards, the absolute number of suspects among "immigrants" in the field of thefts fell well below the number of 2015, with violent crimes showing a downward trend in the reporting year 2019 (see Figure 7). Since suspects with refugee status were not recorded separately until 2016 and were therefore not included in the total number of suspected "immigrants", the figures for 2017, 2018 and 2019 are not entirely comparable with those of previous years. The absolute number of suspects has recently declined, although the underlying population group has continued to grow due to further influx and an expansion of the police statistical definition.

It is noticeable that recognized refugees have so far very rarely been registered as suspects.Even if more precise analyzes are still pending here, including on the reliability of the recording in this newly introduced survey category, this is in line with foreign findings, [49] and it is confirmed in the first more detailed German analyzes on the importance of residence status for crime risks. [ 50] A comparatively low (more) burden on recognized refugees appears theoretically plausible, after all it is about those whose living situation has tended to improve and whose prospects are comparatively favorable.

Overall, "immigrants" are registered as suspects more often than their proportion of the population corresponds to. In 2019, they accounted for 8% of the suspects (excluding violations of immigration law). The proportion of the population can, however, only be roughly estimated (at a good 2%); in particular, the total number of foreigners staying illegally in the country cannot, of course, be precisely quantified. The higher registration frequency is to a certain extent - but not only according to previous impressions - due to the fact that the "immigrant" population has a significantly higher proportion of young men of a generally "crime-relevant" age than the total population. For comparison: Among all first-time asylum applicants in 2015 and 2016, 34% were men between the ages of 16 and 29; in the German population, their share was 7.8% at the end of 2015. The increased visibility of criminal offenses compared to the general population due to a non-settled living situation and staying in communal accommodation can also play a role in certain constellations. Overall, among refugees, as in the general population, there is a small proportion of highly polluted people, while the large majority do not commit criminal offenses.

Differences by country of origin
With all of this, clear differences between different groups of origin can be seen in some cases. In relative terms, war refugees from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan have so far been relatively seldom conspicuous for criminal offenses aimed at generating income (theft, robbery or drug trafficking). Young immigrants from North African countries, but also from certain sub-Saharan countries, continue to have the highest proportions, although the number of suspects has recently fallen significantly again. [51] These groups also tend to be more strongly represented among those with multiple reports. Plausible explanations for this relate to socio-demographic differences in the composition of the various groups of origin, but also to poor prospects for many young immigrants, for example from North Africa, of obtaining a secure residence status that enables access to integration courses and the regular labor market, for example. [52] According to reports from practitioners, some multiple offenders were already involved in crimes before their immigration and, according to current impressions, are difficult to reach for the police, judiciary and social workers - also because they have little to lose. It remains to be seen to what extent measures to promote the withdrawal of those affected by the countries of origin, but also offers of help for reintegration, will have an effect, and the recently observed downward trend, for example in the number of North African suspects, will continue in the coming years.

In the case of refugees with the prospect of staying, it is important to avoid long phases of status insecurity, passivity and forms of accommodation that encourage violence as far as possible. Contacts to society and access to the labor market should be promoted as quickly as possible. [53] With a view to children, day-care centers and schools play a key role, as they provide opportunities for participation and a bond with society and its values ​​and norms.

In the case of immigrants with an assumed low prospect of remaining, it could prove problematic to completely exclude them from integration opportunities for reasons of migration policy (deterring undesirable immigration). Some will return to their countries of origin, but for some the stay will become more permanent after previous experiences. A long stay in separate accommodation, chain tolerances and exclusion from the labor market, for example, can promote a long life on the margins of society. According to studies, for some Kurdish and Palestinian immigrants from Lebanese refugee camps in some major German cities, in addition to the specific socio-cultural "baggage" of already pronounced patriarchal, familial-collectivist orientations, the restrictive refugee integration policy of the 1980s and 1990s - with long-term unsecured residence status, training and work bans in the expectation of an early return - contributed to the development and deepening of clan structures and crime (drug trafficking, extortion of protection money). [54]

7. Conclusion

There is no simple formula for the links between migration and crime. The life situations and crime phenomena associated with it are too diverse. Simply looking at the proportion of foreigners in the crime statistics blurs this knowledge rather than illuminating anything. Overall, crime statistics and survey studies show a tendency towards higher proportions among migrants. On closer inspection, depending on the area of ​​offense, it comes down to different, sometimes small, sub-groups according to residence status, time of immigration, social participation, origin and demographic composition. Increased risks are often related to limited and stressful life circumstances and experiences. A key aspect is access to the labor market. Serious and repeated delinquency affects only a small minority, even among migrants and their descendants.