What Part of 'Illegal' Don't You Understand? The Social Consequences of Criminalizing Unauthorized Mexican Migrants in the United States

Social & Legal Studies 22(4): 535–551 (2013)

17 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2015 Last revised: 6 Aug 2015

See all articles by Daniel Martinez

Daniel Martinez

University of Arizona - Department of Sociology

Jeremy Slack

University of Texas at El Paso

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

In this article, we examine the social repercussions of criminally prosecuting individuals that cross into the United States without official documentation. The "criminalization of immigration law" (Coleman, 2007), federal- and state-level anti-immigrant initiatives, and an incarceration-oriented approach to dealing with unauthorized migration have redefined what it means to be undocumented in the United States, a definition with more sociological implications than ever before. Using strain theory (Agnew, 1992; Merton, 1938) and Cloward and Ohlin's (1960) concept of illegitimate means structures, we discuss the social ramifications for migrants who are exposed to a potentially unfamiliar criminal element while incarcerated for unauthorized entry. First-hand accounts of migrants' experiences were gathered from face-to-face semi-structured interviews of 210 randomly selected individuals at a migrant shelter in northern Mexico.

Keywords: criminalization, crimmigration, unauthorized migration, illegality, deportability

Suggested Citation

Martinez, Daniel and Slack, Jeremy, What Part of 'Illegal' Don't You Understand? The Social Consequences of Criminalizing Unauthorized Mexican Migrants in the United States (2013). Social & Legal Studies 22(4): 535–551 (2013), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2634476

Daniel Martinez (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Department of Sociology ( email )

United States

Jeremy Slack

University of Texas at El Paso ( email )

500 W University Ave
El Paso, TX 79902
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
55
Abstract Views
375
rank
417,374
PlumX Metrics