Latinos and Deportation Arrests

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Relationships between Race and Justice in Immigration

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seen a 43% rise in immigrations arrests since the Trump Administration took office in 2017 (Wamsley, 2017). This should not be surprising as it comes on the heels of a presidential campaign in which Trump promoted an anti-immigration agenda and identified illegal Latino immigrants as virtually enemy #1 of the American people. Using concepts of race, violence, and justice, Trump fostered an “America First” platform that sought to place the problems of the American community, economy, ethics and justice on the backs of Latinos in a way that made them seem remarkably like a scapegoat for the presidential hopeful. With Trump’s election, the campaign pledges became promises that would be kept. As the Associated Press reported in February 2018, “people arrested by deportation officers increasingly have no criminal backgrounds, according to figures released Friday, reflecting the Trump administration’s commitment to cast a wider net.” As Trump intersected race with justice from the beginning of his campaign, the rise in deportation arrests of Latinos shows that the rhetoric was more than just bluster: today’s political agenda reflects a relationship between race and justice that throws serious questions upon both.

Is justice really just if it is racially profiling and targeting individuals who have had no prior criminal record and seemingly pose no threat to American security? That is the question posed by the AP (2018)—and while enforcing immigration laws is certainly within the scope of ICE and its mandate, the worry that some communities have is that this crackdown on illegal immigration will upset a carefully crafted balance between whites and Latinos, one that has taken years to develop.
In America, race is always an issue and one that many people seek to overcome in order to promote concepts of equality and fraternity. At the same time, the agenda of the Trump Administration is nothing new, as Hernandez (2008) shows: “as a critical enforcement practice within the history of racialization and criminalization of nonwhite immigrants in the US, noncitizen detention pursuant to the deportation of immigrants has been utilized throughout the 20th century at the nexus of national crises, xenophobia, and racism” (p. 35). Racialization and criminalization have often been linked in American history as a way for the elites to control a narrative to help them maneuver themselves into positions of power while riding the fears and anxieties of the majority ethnicity in the nation to their political seats of authority. This has in turn facilitated the Immigration Industrial complex—an industry that operates similarly to the prison industrial complex in that it seeks to marginalize a community based on racial factors and to stifle that ethnic community’s chances at making a decent life for itself in America (Diaz, 2011).


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Associated Press. (2018). Deportation officers are increasingly arresting people with no crime records.

Diaz, J. (2011). Immigration Policy, Criminalization and the Growth of the Immigration Industrial Complex: Restriction, Expulsion, and Eradication of the Undocumented in the US 1. Western Criminology Review, 12(2), 35.

Hernández, D. M. (2008). Pursuant to deportation: Latinos and immigrant detention. Latino Studies, 6(1-2), 35-63.

Wamsley, L. (2017). As It Makes More Arrests, ICE Looks For More Detention Centers. Retrieved from

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