The United States’ sordid history with race-based policing is too well known to need recounting. Often forgotten, though, is that race-based policing continues to receive the Supreme Court’s blessing when it comes to immigration law. In a pair of decisions from the mid-1970s, the Court allowed immigration officials to explicitly consider whether someone looks Mexican in gauging their legality (see here). Today, almost everyone confined due to a suspected or confirmed immigration law violation is a person of color—overwhelmingly Latino.
In a lecture I have about two weeks ago, I explained the connections between race, immigration law enforcement, and immigration imprisonment in the United States, including how it received the Supreme Court’s blessing. Though the Court tends to adopt more subtle language these days, it hasn’t backed away from this position. The reality of immigration policing today is that it is heavily skewed against communities of color. As the University of Cincinnati’s Yolanda Vázquez wrote on the Border Criminologies blog yesterday, “Approximately 94 percent of those removed, 90 percent of those in immigration detention, and 94 percent of those removed for criminal violations are Latinos, predominately poor, mainly from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The enforcement of current immigration laws has created racialized mass removal.” Over the next two weeks, Vázquez is leading a discussion of this topic on the Border Criminologies blog that promises to be worth reading.
My own lecture was part of the “Analyzing Race Through a Racial Justice Lens” organized by students at Denver Law. The 35-minute lecture is available here. It is posted here with the organizers’ permission.
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