Notably, within the popular imaginary immigrants and immigrant neighborhoods are typically represented as dangerous and violence prone; research, however, consistently bears out that “immigration exerts a protective effect on crime” (Vicino, Hanlo, & Short, 2011). As such, immigrant neighborhoods are not more likely to be violence prone than non-immigrant neighborhoods.
Nonetheless, immigrant-origin children and youth often find themselves in less resourced neighborhoods. Residential segregation is particularly pervasive in the U.S. (García Coll et al., 1996), and is important for immigrant families as they navigate economic opportunity structures. Though immigrant families coming into highly valued jobs can settle into privileged neighborhoods, those working in less prestigious areas often settle into poorer neighborhoods with substandard living conditions and limited access to public resources including resourced schools (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001)
While such environments may be particularly risky for immigrant-origin children and youth as it can expose them post-migratory traumatic experiences (including neighborhood violence and gangs) and heighted xenophobia as well as targeted immigration raids in the community (Chaudry, et al., 2010).
On the other hand, neighborhood communities can also provide internal resources for immigrant-origin children and youth, providing social cohesion and a sense of belonging that supports positive adaptation (García Coll et al., 1996). The positive social relationships these neighborhoods provide may serve to buffer the negative impacts of discrimination and xenophobia (White, et al., 2017).