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Michael T. Light and Jason P. Robey

Amid global trends of increasingly mobile populations, scholars have debated whether national citizenship status remains relevant for international migrants. Some argue that international courts have practically eliminated the differences between citizens and noncitizens through equal protection under the law, while others maintain that national membership remains an essential form of stratification in modern societies. Recent trends in immigration enforcement seem to emphasize the continuing salience of citizenship, as criminal sanctions have become increasingly commonplace in border control. With the increasing importation of criminal justice strategies into migration policy, Western societies have witnessed dramatic increases in the number of noncitizens adjudicated and punished in recent decades, a trend that has gained considerable steam in the United States under the Trump administration. For example, between the president’s inauguration (January 20, 2018) and the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2018), the number of immigration arrests increased by 42% over the same time period in 2016. Yet despite these debates and trends, the role of citizenship status has received only limited consideration within the field of criminology. In the same vein, the role of punishment has been underappreciated in the field of citizenship studies. Against this backdrop, theoretical insights from the sociology of punishment are connected with three central aspects of citizenship: (1) state sovereignty, (2) cultural understanding, and (3) group membership. Drawing these parallels to theoretical and methodological traditions within criminology will set new research paths for future scholars to understand criminology in the context of a globalizing world increasingly characterized by international migration.


Deena A. Isom and Deanna Cann

The Latinx community is ever expanding in America, accounting for over half of the population growth since 2010. While immigration numbers have decreased, Latinxs are still projected to represent 27.5% of the total American population by 2060. The Latinx community holds a distinct position in the American racial hierarchy, sometimes sandwiched between their White and Black counterparts, but often intertwined with the oppressions faced by Blacks as well as confronting their own marginalization. Furthermore, Latinxs often find themselves in a unique disjuncture between their cultural heritage and American norms. Such factors coalesce into a distinct lived experience for Latinxs in America. Due to their structural position in American society, it is unsurprising that Latinxs are disproportionately entangled in the criminal justice system at the state and federal levels, with Latino men being incarcerated at a rate nearly three times higher than their White counterparts. The unique American history of the Latinx community created factors that distinctly impact those labeled Latinx. From the Spanish colonization of Latin and North Americas, the Mexican-American War, Mexican Repatriation, to the modern conservative push to “build the wall,” those of Latinx American heritage have been racialized, marginalized, and oppressed in the United States. This history has led to an era of Juan Crow and a crimmigration system that distinctly legalizes the discrimination and perpetuates the marginalization of Latinxs in America. The lived experiences of Latinxs, particularly their encounters with discrimination, cannot be separated from their entanglement with the American criminal justice system. Several unique cultural factors, such as ethnic identity, familism, and religion, also aid Latinxs in their resilience against discrimination and its impacts. Further research to empirically inform the development of culturally appropriate interventions and policies for Latinxs is imperative in promoting equity and inclusion for one of America’s most overlooked and vulnerable populations.


Jennifer M. Chacón

The regulation of immigration in the United States is a civil law matter, and the deportation and exclusion of immigrants from the United States are matters adjudicated in civil, administrative courts operated by the federal government. But migration in the United States is increasingly managed not through the civil law system, but through the criminal legal system, and not just at the federal level, but at all levels of government. The most obvious example of the management of migration through the criminal law in the United States occurs through the federal prosecution of immigration crimes. In the 2010s, federal prosecutions of immigration crimes reached all-time record highs, as immigration offenses became the most commonly prosecuted federal criminal offenses. But it is not just the federal government, using federal criminal prosecutions, that has moved criminal law and criminal law enforcement agents to the center of immigration enforcement in the United States. The federal government relies on state and local police to serve as front-line agents in the identification of noncitizens potentially subject to removal. Everyone arrested by state and local law enforcement for any reason has their fingerprints run through federal law databases, and this has become the leading screening mechanism through which the federal government identifies individuals to target for removal. Federal law also relies on state law convictions as one of the primary means through which federal immigration enforcement officials determine which noncitizens to remove. This means that state legislatures and state and local governments have the power to shape both their criminal laws and their discretionary enforcement choices to either enhance or mitigate the scope of federal immigration enforcement in their jurisdictions. The problems of racial inequity in the U.S. criminal legal system are both exacerbated by and fuel the centrality of immigration enforcement to the nation’s law enforcement agenda. Racial profiling is broadly tolerated by law in the context of immigration enforcement, making it easy for officials at the state and federal level to justify the targeting of the Latinx population for heightened surveillance on the theory (often incorrect) that they are unlawfully present. At the same time, the overpolicing of Black communities ensures that Black immigrants as well as Latinx immigrants are disproportionately identified as priorities for removal. Immigration enforcement is frequently written out of the story of racial inequality in U.S. policing, but the criminalization of migration is a central architectural feature of this inequitable system.


Richard Staring and René van Swaaningen

Despite the dominant notion that people are now allegedly living in the “era of globalization,” accompanied by rosy stories about a “global village,” borders have never lost their significance. On the contrary, the importance of borders has grown significantly under recent global and European crises. Not only have the number of borders increased, but borders also have become fluid as they moved outside national territories in order to protect countries, as well as political and economic unions, against the perceived threats of transnational organized crime, pandemics, unwanted migration, and terrorism. This externalization of borders through (financial) support and bilateral agreements with other countries led to a relocation of borders far beyond the geographical borders of nation states. In addition, borders have been renewed, reinforced, (temporarily) reactivated, and transformed. Specific attention is paid to some developments surrounding borders, including a responsibilization process on border control, in which governments increasingly stimulate or enforce private parties to take up responsibility in controlling their companies, and ultimately their borders, with respect to irregular migration and crime. Borders are also embodied in different kinds of measures and policies of nation-states that guard access of welfare state provisions, and through the merging of criminal law and immigration law (i.e., crimmigration). Finally, the “border industry” means business for construction, infrastructure, biometrics, and identity technology companies, as well as for security forces, research institutes, aid organizations, and human smugglers. The commodification of borders is an ongoing process as envisioned not only in popular culture as music, literature, reality TV and movies, but also in borders that have become important touristic attractions. The framing of borders through this commodification process as inevitable and as a necessity in turn expresses and legitimates current state agendas.