The Criminalization of Latino Immigrants and its Consequences in the Contemporary American Immigration Narrative
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Latino immigration is an issue on the forefront of the American sociopolitical landscape. Recent immigration laws, such as Arizona’s SB 1070 passed in 2010, are examples of the current efforts by state governments to curb immigrant populations in the United States. One of the more prominent arguments made to support such measures is the idea that increases in immigrant populations leads to an increase and proliferation of crime. Criminologists who have studied this phenomenon have not found a consistent, reliable link between foreign-born populations and crime, yet this perception seems to persist. Moving the discussion forward in this area, this thesis examined the direct effect of the “criminalization” of Latino immigrants on respondents’ immigration attitudes and their ideas on controlling immigrant populations. The findings suggest that the “Latino immigrant as criminal” narrative has differential effects on these two concepts tied to immigrants; attitudes and support for immigration laws. In order to more fully explain the contemporary immigration narrative in the United States, it may be necessary to reconceptualize current critical race theories and sociology of law paradigms in future research.