Contextual variation in the punishment of Hispanic non-citizens: A multilevel analysis from an immigration threat perspective
Villagomez, Byron Ernesto
Johnson, Brian D.
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The increasing number of Hispanic non-citizens being punished by the Federal courts has revived the debate about sentencing disparity. This study extends extant research by examining contextual variation in the punishment of Hispanic defendants, with a focus on citizenship status. Using data from the United States Sentencing Commission for FY2008, this paper purports to explain that variation using factors drawn from an immigration threat standpoint. The results indicate that the expected variation exists, with non-citizens receiving shorter or lengthier sentences than citizens, depending on the place of sentencing. Moreover, Hispanic political representation and unauthorized immigrant populations had a slight but significant negative and positive effect, respectively, for all Hispanic defendants. Also, the former aspect had a minor and negative impact on sentence length for Hispanic non-citizens. These findings contribute to a better understanding of how Hispanics are sentenced by the Federal courts, and tracing the route for future research.