Criminalizing Migration

150 Daedalus 106 (Spring 2021)

Ohio State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 636

14 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2021 Last revised: 13 Jan 2023

Date Written: June 29, 2021


Beginning in the 1980s, the United States embarked on a decades-long restructuring of federal laws criminalizing migration and increasing the consequences for migrants engaging in criminal activity. Today, the results are clear: a law enforcement apparatus and immigration prison system propelled by a vast infrastructure of laws and policies. The presidency of Donald Trump augmented this trend and brought it to public attention. But lost in President Trump’s unique flair is an ideological commitment shared by multiple presidential administrations and legislators from both major political parties to use the criminal justice system and imprisonment to sift migrants. Examining these ideological attachments reveals Trump-era policies to be the outer edge of decades-long trends rather than extreme and momentary deviations from the norm.

Suggested Citation

García Hernández, César Cuauhtémoc, Criminalizing Migration (June 29, 2021). 150 Daedalus 106 (Spring 2021), Ohio State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 636, Available at SSRN: or

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández (Contact Author)

Ohio State University College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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